Friday, September 19, 2008

Spatter Pattern

And no, it's not the spatter pattern that is discussed so frequently in episodes of "CSI". It's "Spatter", and it's one of my favorite Hinson prints. Designed by Harry Hinson in 1974, the print was inspired by the spatter motif found often in Colonial ceramicware (this according to a 2001 New York Times article). The article also mentioned that it's a print that counts Albert Hadley and Jeffrey Bilhuber amongst its fans. I've also read that Billy Baldwin used it in his Nantucket home, but I can't find a photo.

So, just where can you use a print like "Spatter"? Well, Harry Hinson used it in his East Hampton home (shown above), and I was thrilled to see it in another Hamptons house designed by Tom Scheerer (and featured in the August '08 issue of House Beautiful). But I do think you can use it in a city home too. How about in a powder room? Or a kitchen? Just think of "Spatter" as a modern take on early Americana.

And speaking of Americana, I was curious about Hinson's supposed inspiration for this print. Just what was spatter and how was it used during Colonial times? Well, one of the prime examples is spatterware. According to a ceramic curator at
Winterthur, spatterware was originally manufactured in England where it was known as spongeware. As spongeware was not particularly popular in England, most of it was shipped to the American colonies where it became known as spatterware. And it was here in America where spatterware became extremely popular, especially amongst the Pennsylvania Germans. Sponge and spatter painting was also used on furniture, walls, and floors during this era.

So although I can't corroborate whether Hinson was actually inspired by spatterware or not, it's something to ponder. If you would like to learn more about spatterware, you should visit
Winterthur. Henry Francis du Pont was a major collector of it, and there is a magnificent display of his collection in Spatterware Hall at Winterthur. Or you can read more about his collection here in an interview with du Pont's daughter, the lucky recipient of some of her father's collection.

(Many thanks to everyone at Winterthur for assisting me in my research of spatterware.)

Two images of Scheerer's fabulous wallpaper selection for an East Hampton cottage (image from House Beautiful, Aug 08; Simon Upton photographer).

A Spatterware platter, c. 1825-1855, Staffordshire England. Does this not look modern to you? Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont; image courtesy of Winterthur.

Spatterware pitcher, c. 1825-1855, Staffordshire England. Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont. Image courtesy of Winterthur.

Four examples of Spatterware jugs, c. 1825-1855, Staffordshire England. Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont. Photo courtesy of Winterthur.

Image at top: "Spatter" in blue and white on the walls and curtains of Harry Hinson's East Hampton dining room.


  1. Great mention in the Times yesterday, congrats!

  2. magnaverde10:16 AM

    Jennifer, here's another possible inspiration for Harry Hinson's spatter pattern: spatterdash floors, or, at least, the romanticized depiction of one in a wonderful watercolor that Pierre Brissaud did for House & Garden in the 193Os.

    Congratulations on yesterday's artricle in the NYT!

  3. Magna- You are absolutely right! I tried to find images of spatterdash floors, but could not. So a big thank you for this image. After seeing this, I am thinking that spatterdash floors might have been more of the inspiration for the Hinson print rather than spatterware.

  4. Jennifer, I have the book "American Elegance" which features tablesettings and menus from Winterthur....excellent book.
    When I read about the Spatterware collection in your post, I ran and got my book and looked it up....and there it was! I always, always learn so much from you!


  5. A decorator friend of ours had a fabulous splatter pattern on his NYC kitchen walls. It was a modern kitchen, but the splatter was graphic in a way that worked for a modern interior, while giving a sense of history to the room.

    I'm glad to see splatter is available as wallpaper -- I think his was a fancy hand-painted surface (since he had professional painter connections).

  6. Mimilee- A few weeks ago I discovered that my mother has that same book! I glanced through it and it looked like a wonderful book. I'll need to check it out over the weekend to see the spatterware. :)

  7. Lisa- That sounds like my kind of kitchen! I think the wallpaper is a nice and economical alternative.

  8. I was just at Hinson a couple of days ago and was thumbing through the wallpapers when I stopped dead at the Spatterware pattern. I have always loved it. Once upon a time I created a spatter-pattern floor in my country house but used modern tailored furniture with it and a couple of heavy Georgian antiques. Very nice it was.

  9. As for the corroboration about Hinson's pattern, just call Harry at the showroom!

  10. Great post- love the splatterware.

  11. Anonymous11:37 PM

    Jennifer! Diet coke everywhere on the CSI Splatter pattern remark! lol!!!!

    My dream is to see Winterthur!