To Hannah Ritchie and Jane Saunders, 1 May 1923, Studio, St. Lawrence’s Street, Burford, Oxon
‘Amy Krauss suggests coming for the summer with a crate of Pottery & her wheel & setting up business & teaching – I am finding her a shop front. It will be invigorating for Burford’.
Amy Krauss RWA (1876-1961) was born in Bristol to a German father and an English mother. She studied at the Royal West of England Academy, becoming a founding member of The Clifton Arts Club. Although she is known to admirers of Frances Hodgkins in her later role as a potter, Krauss began her artistic career as a painter in both oils and watercolours.
Krauss exhibited regularly from 1904 until 1914, chiefly landscape paintings. She studied art at the Académie Colarossi, Paris between 1908 and 1913, where it is believed she first met Frances Hodgkins. She returned to Bristol at the outbreak of war and worked as a draftsman for the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company. A clear influence on her aesthetic came from the Scottish colourists Samuel Peploe, J.D. Fergusson and Leslie Hunter, whom she came across while in Paris before the War.
Krauss joined Hodgkins’ sketching class in St Ives in September 1915. The Apple Tree, which was exhibited in 1917 at the Royal West of England Academy is characteristic of Krauss’painterly works. Krauss preferred outdoor scenes, whether in Britain or France. This work indicates clearly how Hodgkins’ loose shaping of forms and reliance on colour influenced Krauss’ watercolours, though it retains the imprint of the French work she would have seen in Paris a few years earlier.
Krauss painted with Hodgkins again at Burford in 1923, by which time, however, she had turned to pottery as her primary medium. Her interest in pottery grew as she collected several‘peasant ware’pieces on her travels abroad. She established her pottery career by first working for Fishley Holland Pottery, Devon, and later sharing a studio with Sibley Pottery, Wareham, Dorset. Finding success in Burford after setting up a small shop selling her pottery in the summer of 1923, Krauss established a permanent studio in a barn on West Street, Corfe Castle. She used locally sourced Wareham clay and grog, firing her pieces in an oil-fired kiln.
Krauss became one of Hodgkins’ closest friends and supporters. Hodgkins often stayed with her at her home, Redlane Cottage in Corfe Castle, and in August 1941 Krauss made the trip to Katharine & Anthony West’s farm to collect Hodgkins after recent surgery. She cared for Hodgkins at her home until she was well enough to return to her studio cottage later that year. Krauss was also instrumental in introducing Hodgkins to Elsie Barling and Dorothy Selby who would remain amongst her closest friends.
Krauss’ first major pottery exhibition was held at Lefevre Galleries, London, in 1925. Beautiful though they are in their small-scale perfection, the pieces illustrated here are not typical of Krauss’ceramic style. From the beginning of her interest in ceramics, in 1918, she tended to a cottage or peasant style, based on an admiration for French and Italian domestic pottery. She was more likely to produce vessels of domestic utility such as bowls, jugs and dishes, as can be seen in the photograph of her at work around 1940. There is a common factor, however, in the small scale, necessitated by the modest working set-up that she established for herself in Corfe Castle.
Written by Jonathan Gooderham & Grace Alty
We are grateful to Dr Pamela Gerrish Nunn for her assistance in compiling the catalogue entries.