To many who will turn the pages of this volume, George Kaufman was both a friend and a mentor. His generosity and that of his wife, Linda, is manifest in the curatorial careers they have helped to shape and the many publications and exhibitions they have supported through personal gifts and grants from the Kaufman Americana Foundation.
George and Linda are perhaps best known for their incomparable collections of American furniture, Dutch Old Master paintings, and English brass. Less well known is the fact that they collected early American porcelain.
One of the Kaufmans’ greatest pleasures was sharing their treasures with others. George’s enthusiasm was infectious, regardless of whether he was debating the merits of a great Philadelphia rococo side chair or a rare piece of Amelung glass. Those of us fortunate enough to have spent time with George and Linda or to have seen the 1986 exhibition “American Furniture in the Kaufman Collection” at the National Gallery of Art have had the chance to witness firsthand their extraordinary passion and dedication.
One of my most memorable experiences in this field began with a visit to the Kaufmans’ home in Norfolk, Virginia, where we had a discussion of Bonnin and Morris porcelain. After our usual debate over which piece was best, George disappeared into his office, then reappeared with photographs of two extraordinary pickle dishes reputedly commissioned by Philadelphia merchant John Cadwalader and his wife, Elizabeth Lloyd. I remember asking “Are these what I think they are?” and George responding “You’re going to find out.”
A few weeks later George called to say he had chartered a plane to ﬂy Linda and me to New York to meet with ceramics dealer Gary Stradling, and we had the opportunity to examine the dishes in the owner’s apartment. Three underglaze-blue “P” marks later, we returned—dishes in hand—to Norfolk, only to find George sitting next to his prized Philadelphia tea table set with a bottle of champagne and a massive glass pyramid sporting almost every kind of pickle known to man. I will never forget the smile on his face at that moment.
It is only fitting that this issue of Ceramics in America is dedicated to George and jointly published by the Chipstone Foundation and Kaufman Americana Foundation. Common mission statements aside, it is friendships that have made this endeavor possible and pleasurable.
Editor, American Furniture