March 13 - June, 1997
extensive collection of 20th-century porcelain dinnerware -- highlights
of the 400-piece George Wesp Collection -- are featured in the exhibition
Wall-to-Wall Wesp which is part of the permanent collection
of the International Museum of Ceramic Art at Alfred. The Wesp Collection
was given to Alfred University in 1964 by Alma B. Wesp, wife of
the late porcelain designer and importer of fine dinnerware, to
be exhibited by the New York State College of Ceramics.
Born in Bavarian Germany at the turn of the century,
George Wesp followed family example and began his apprenticeship
at Rosenthal Ceramics at the young age of 14. He stayed with this
company for thirty years, becoming an American representative and
moving to New York when he was 22. Keen at interpreting the American
market and meeting its demands, while shaping future trends through
his own sketches and designs, Wesp found success in America and
acquired citizenship. Organizing his own company in the 1940s, Wesp
represented some sixteen companies from Belgium, Czechoslovakia,
France, Italy, and Latvia, as well as Germany. His own designs were
produced in Tettau, Germany, where his aggressive requests for product
rebuilt the post-Wold War II economy there.
Among the work featured in the Wesp Collection
are Rosenthal-designed "Pompadour" dinnerware, created
in response to Rococo-inspired popular French designs, ceasing the
need to import French wares into Germany; Latvian exports of underpainted
images of fruit; dainty Czecholslovak tea cups; and a large selection
of "Royal Tettau" luxury porcelain -- a high demand product
created in response to popular Danish "Royal Copenhagen."
Collecting began in the 1920s. Wesp collected what he imported,
and the collection serves as a testimony to his design skills as
history serves testimony to his influence.