Decorated Stoneware Cooler

Paul Cushman (1767-1833), Albany, NY
Date: 1818
Maker: Paul Cushman (1767-1833), Albany, NY
Dimensions: 23 1/2 H x 13 1/2 Dia. (at waist)
Materials: Salt-glazed stoneware with incised and cobalt-glazed decorations


Credit: Bequest of James Ten Eyck
Accession Number: 1911.5.16

This two-handled cooler ranks as a masterpiece of both craftsmanship and decoration. It was almost certainly made as a presentation piece to mark a special occasion, but its precise reason for being is not known. The two hearts may indicate a wedding, yet the Liberty Pole with flags suggests a political scene. The basket of tulips, though common in Germanic folk arts, is the only such design found on Cushman's stoneware. Paul Cushman was one of the founders of a regional stoneware industry that spanned the Upper Hudson Valley. When he moved to Albany around 1800, there were few local potters, but his pottery works became a long-lived and successful business that also initiated a century of tremendous growth and expansion in regional stoneware manufacturing.