The Reeves Collection

Founded in 1967 with a gift of ceramics from alumnus Euchlin Reeves and his wife, the painter Louise Herreshoff, the Reeves Collection contains ceramics made in Asia, Europe, and the Americas between 1500 and today.

These fragile yet durable objects tell stories of design, technology, and trade, and illustrate how people drank, dined and decorated their homes over the past five centuries.

Search and view items from the Reeves Collection by visiting our online database. Records may at times be added or removed for editing.

Current Exhibits

Wedgwood MedallionBreaking the Chains: Ceramics and the Abolition Movement"

The new exhibit “Breaking the Chains: Ceramics and the Abolition Movement,” sponsored by the Reeves Collection, is now open at the Watson Pavilion at Washington and Lee University. This exhibition features several pieces of anti-slavery ceramics used to support the cause of abolition throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. These pieces are taken from the Reeves Collection as well as loaned from institutions such as Colonial Williamsburg and Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library.

On Thursday, March 14th, University Collections of Art and History will  hold a lecture and reception to mark the opening of the exhibition. The lecture, given by the Reeves Center Curator of Collections Ron Fuchs, will be held at 5:00 PM in Northen Auditorium of Leyburn Library on the Washington and Lee campus. A reception will be held immediately following the lecture at 5:30 PM at Watson Pavilion, also located on campus and easy walking distance from the library.

Both events are free and open to the public. “Breaking the Chains” will remain on display through December 31, 2019.

New Accessions

Salad Bowl

Salad Bowl
Made in Jingdezhen and decorated in Guangzhou (Canton), China, 1830-1840
Made of Hard-Paste Porcelain
Gift of Bruce C. Perkins

This bowl, emblazoned with the name of the ship Red Rover, is intimately connected to the smuggling of opium into China in the 1830s. 

The Red Rover was the first of the "opium clippers," which were fast-sailing ships that carried opium from India to China.  Built in 1829 and named after the swash-buckling pirate in James Fennimore Cooper's The Red Rover, she belonged to Jardine Matheson & Company.  They were the leading British merchant house involved in the lucrative but illegal opium market. Opium made vast fortunes for a few British, American, Indian, and Chinese merchants, and created serious medical, social, and economic problems in China.  These and other issues led to the Opium War fought between Britain and China from 1839 until 1842.