Mottahedeh Porcelain is a luxury ceramic company based in the United States. Established in 1931 by Mildred and Rafi Mottahedeh, its major products are hard porcelain faience and stoneware; it is also known for its ceramic antique reproductions.
Background of Mottahedeh Porcelain
Rafi Mottahedeh was born in 1901 in the central Iranian town of Kashan, a place known for its artisanal and calligraphic practices, and for its production of unique rugs and silk and gold brocade. Mottahedeh helped his family’s business in this artisanal brocade until 1925, when political upheaval in Iran prompted him to emigrate to America.
After enrolling in New York University’s night school and supporting himself with a series of odd jobs, Mottahedeh secured a job with the Scott Postage Stamp Catalogue, becoming an authority on Persian stamp classification. He assisted the Curator of Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in reading Arabic and Persian inscriptions, and soon after began importing Persian pottery and brass pieces for sale, sourcing antique Luristan bronzes and Qajar wall tiles.
Mildred Wurzel was born in New Jersey in 1908. She had a keen interest in non-Western art and culture from a young age, and after an education at the New Jersey College for Women, she found work as an interior designer at a Manhattan firm. Mildred and Rafi met when she visited his office to buy Persian collectibles, and they married in 1929.
Working together, the couple saw their business take off. In the 1930s and 40s, large numbers of Europeans sold their porcelain to the Mottahedehs to import to the United States, and the Mottahedeh firm imported a steady collection of East Asian and European porcelain with depictions of religion and animal figures.
In the 1950s, the Mottahedeh company made its first reproductions by sourcing craft traditions and knowledge from East Asian, South Asian, and European countries and cultures. Most of their reproductions were of 18th-century ceramics, and curators came to consult the Mottahedeh porcelain business on original and reproduction ceramics.
In 1997, Wendy Kvalheim took over the firm as CEO, and continues to run the company today, continuing the Mottahedeh’s legacy as manufacturers of porcelain.
Notable Mottahedeh Pieces
Mottahedeh pieces have vibrantly colored and delicately illustrated patterns that are often intricately painted with gold decoration. Their “Tobacco Leaf” porcelain service is a reproduction of 18th-century porcelain designs; it is displayed in it own right in the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a culturally significant art piece of the 20th century. It is similar in style to Chinese export porcelain with its bright hues; it features drawings of the tobacco plant and is noted for its complex illustrations.
The company makes multiple reproductions and designs based on antique patterns for cultural centers and museums. Most of Mottahedeh’s collections pay homage to Chinese designs, including the “Blue Canton,” “Cinnabar,” “Lace,” and “Faimille Verte” dinnerware collections. Each has varying intensities of vivid colors, and features significant symbolic patterns.
The company has licensed hard porcelain faience and stoneware with several cultural institutions in the United States. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, for instance, has licenses for authentic fine china reproductions from Mottahedeh, as does the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Historic Charleston Foundation, Winterthur Museum and Gardens, Mount Vernon, and the National Geographic Society.
Mottahedeh pieces have also been used in official dinners and formal events by the White House, the Diplomatic Corps, and the State Department of the United States.
Mottahedeh in the Market
Mottahedeh porcelain has continues to grow in popularity, and Mottahedeh pieces are found in museums, state dinners, wedding registries, and private collections.
The most popular Mottahedeh pieces in the market are the “Blue Canton” and “Tobacco Leaf” dinnerware collections. Due to their inclusion in state and cultural institutions, Mottahedeh pieces are valuable in markets both within and outside the United States. Solo pieces can often be priced higher than complete sets of chinaware.
Sell or Appraise Mottahedeh Porcelain
If you have any porcelain pieces or dinnerware by Mottahedeh, get in touch with our experts at Revere Auctions. If you would like to sell your Mottahedeh porcelain, you can auction it at our location in St. Paul, Minnesota. We also offer our services online.
You can contact us anytime for a free auction estimate if you want to sell porcelain by Mottahedeh. We have a very simple process. After you send us the photos of the work, our experts will take a look, analyze, and provide you an estimate of the amount the artwork is likely to reach at auction.
If you need an appraisal for Mottahedeh porcelain or dinnerware, we provide a certified appraisal report that can be used for estate taxes, donations, and insurance coverage. Our appraisals are compliant with Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice and are accepted by insurance companies, charity agencies, and the IRS.