Johannes Neis


Neis a Pennsylvania German potter, worked in the area of Rock-hill and Salford Townships in Bucks and Montgomery Counties, Pennsylvania. There are conflicts regardinga uniform spelling of his name. Scholar John Ramsay cautions about Neis pottery, warning that “makers’ marks were only rarely used, and the names found on some of the fine sgrafitto and slip ware pieces are often those of the decorators or recipients.”Scholars Jack L.Lindsey and Bernice B.Garvan have determined that John Neis, the son of Henry and Maria Elizabeth Neis of Salford Township, was probablyapprenticed to his uncles, also potters, Abraham and Johannes Neis, or another of their apprentices, David Spinner (1758–1811). Johannes Neis decorated hisearthenware with motifs associated with his Pennsylvania German community: equestrian designs with banded inscriptions based on folktales; and vines, flowers, or birds emerging from a container in symmetrically balanced compositions. Lindsey notes that most Neis sgrafitto floral designs “have the fluid, confident character of metal engraving and utilize similar curved, fine-scored parallel lines to delineate the petals of flowers, shading, or the turn of a leaf.” Lindsey also notes that the balanced patterns used by Neis were found in the work of “scriveners, fraktur artists, needleworkers,” and woodworkers. Neis and his family of potters loved color and ornament and decorated their wares with traditional forms and motifs. They may have labored seasonally as farmers.From the local rich clay they produced both utilitarian and decorative ware. Their pottery was additionally enhanced by surface decoration of appliquéd impresseddesigns, incised sgrafitto patterns, or “trailed” slip decoration.