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Arts of North America

Art created in North America includes objects made by native cultures of the present-day United States and Canada; paintings and decorative arts produced during colonial times; 18th- and 19th-century masterpieces; and the work of contemporary artists and photographers.

H. Wilson & Co.
Five-Gallon Jar; Two-Gallon Jug; Five-Gallon Churn; Jar; Jug; Six-Gallon Jar; Three-Gallon Jar; Seven-Gallon Jar
1869–84, Guadalupe County, Texas
Salt-glazed stoneware

Various dimensions

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The Bayou Bend Collection, Museum purchase funded by the Houston Junior Woman’s Club;  Museum purchase funded by the African American Art Advisory Association; Museum purchase funded by the Houston Junior Woman’s Club; Museum purchase funded by Patty and Allen Gage; Museum purchase funded by Mr. and Mrs. Don McMillian; Museum purchase funded by AIG American General in honor of Robert Devlin at “One Great Night in November, 2001”; Museum purchase funded by Robert Mosbacher, Sr. and Jerry E. Finger in honor of Peter C. Marzio at “One Great Night in November, 2001”; given in memory of Linda Jolivet by her friends and colleagues at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Arts of North America

After the Civil War, many black Americans continued to work as craftsmen. Artisans were important leaders in Northern and Southern black communities. They employed fellow African Americans and welcomed them as customers, unlike many white business people.

H. Wilson & Co. supported the African American community in Guadalupe County, Texas, following the abolition of slavery. The freed slaves of John M. Wilson Jr. (see John M. Wilson Pottery in this collection) founded the company in 1869. Led by the master potters Hyrum, James, and Wallace Wilson, the company produced beautiful and unique pieces of pottery.

However, H. Wilson’s potters did not just copy what they had made for Guadalupe Pottery Company. The black artisans created new forms, textures, and styles of pottery. For example, the H. Wilson & Co. used a salt glaze rather than the ash glaze used by Guadalupe Pottery Company. The company’s success shows that some African Americans prospered in the difficult years after the Civil War. The black craftsmen of H. Wilson & Co. were leaders of and advocates for African Americans in their small but vibrant Texas community.

To learn more, see the William J. Hill Texas Artisans and Artists Archive, which includes a number of African American craftsmen in its collection.

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