After its founding in 1940, the Ceramic Arts Studio of Madson, Wisconsin mostly specialized in hand-thrown pots.
After seeing only mild success, partners Lawrence Rabitt and Rueben Sand began looking elsewhere for inspiration.
Betty Harrington, a secretary for the State of Wisconsin, found her children playing with the clay they found from a recently excavated well.
Without any formal training in art but possessing a passionate creativity, Harrington shaped an incense burner out of the clay.
She brought it to the Ceramic Arts Studio on Blount Street, hoping to have it fired; but she found so much more.
Sand and Rabitt enjoyed her work so much, that Harrington became a permanent position as head studio designer.
Her most popular designs included "shelf-sitters" like this fanciful pair, affectionately called Maurice and Michele.
Each figure features extraordinary detail and vivid color. Shelf-sitters are so called because they typically sit with a limb draped over the edge of the shelf; Maurice and Michele each dangle a leg over the edge.
Their exotic, whimsical style is referred to as "50s deco."
Their faces are masterfully painted to show exquisite emotion; their cheeks are ruddy and their lips are rosy.
On the underside of Maurice, you can see the manufacturer's original hallmark which reads "Ceramic Arts Studio Madison WIS ©".
The indicator of early, original Harrington directed pieces is a painted or glazed number or mark on the inside of the underside.
These marks were originally used for inventory control, but are a good indicator of early, original CAS pieces.
Both pieces have the marks on the interior, but we can't get a photograph of the marks.
The name "Maurice" is written adjacent to this in the same font but a bit larger. Michele features the same hallmark as well as her name.
Light pencil marks can be seen on the underside of each, these were added by the manufacturer during the casting process.
Both figurines are in impeccable, near-mint condition.
The discerning collector will recognize them both as a truly thrilling find!
Measurements: Maurice: 6" total height, when seated rises 4 ½" from surface, leg hangs 2" from table, shoulder to shoulder measures 3", weight: 181.3 grams (6.39 grams) Michele: 5 ¾" total height, 4 1/8" from surface, leg hangs 1 ¾" from table, shoulder to shoulder measures 2 ¾", weight: 180.8 grams (6.35 grams) Total weight of set: 362.1 (12.78 grams)
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