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Photo Credit: David Dietrich


Tile for Saint Lawrence Basilica

circa 1905-1909
20th century
Medium & Support
Glazed terracotta
Support: 1 x 9 1/8 x 4 3/8 in.
Object Type
Credit Line
Gift of the Basilica of Saint Lawrence, Asheville, NC
Accession Number
No Copyright, United States

Raised abstract patterned tile. Green horizontal bands top and bottom. The central band has yellow circular forms and blue horizontal lines.

Label History

Rafael Guastavino Valencia, Spain 1842–1908 Black Mountain, NC Basilica of Saint Lawrence tiles, 1905–1909 Glazed terra-cotta Gift of the Basilica of Saint Lawrence, Asheville, NC, SC2002.03.05.88, SC2002.03.08.88

Exhibition Title: Intersections in American Art
Label Date: 11/2019
Type: Object Label
Written by: Whitney Richardson

Architecture in Asheville & Art Pottery Three architects shaped the look of Asheville. The two earliest came to the area to work for George Vanderbilt at the Biltmore Estate in the 1890s. Richard Sharp Smith went on to design the Arts and Crafts-style Biltmore Village in 1895 and Rafael Guastavino brought with him a structural tile company whose work is highlighted at the Estate and at St. Lawrence Basilica, built in 1909. The third architect, Douglas D. Ellington, arrived in the mid-1920s and revolutionized the look of Asheville with his Art Deco City Building and S&W Cafeteria. Art pottery was first introduced to the American market at the 1876 World’s Fair in Philadelphia. Often functional, but always decorative, art pottery was adopted by local and national potteries alike. Seen here are some of the finest makers of the first quarter of the 20th century, including Western North Carolina’s Pisgah Forest Pottery and Omar Khayyam Pottery. Decorative glass, like the work by Louis Comfort Tiffany, was also new to America and very popular.

Exhibition Title: Intersections in American Art
Label Date: 11/2019
Type: Extended Chat
Written by: Whitney Richardson

This tile is from the sanctuary behind the altar in the Basilica of Saint Lawrence, a Roman Catholic church in Asheville. It is made of terra-cotta that was formed in molds and colored with glaze. It was used in borders and is an extra from the construction process. Guastavino was brought to Asheville in 1894 by architect Richard Morris Hunt to work on George Vanderbilt’s estate, Biltmore. It was there that he first collaborated with Richard Sharp Smith, with whom he later worked on the Basilica. Its free-standing elliptical dome is among the largest in North America and is an excellent example of Guastavino’s patented Catalan vault—an ancient Roman style of tile vaulting. Named for the region in Spain where it was commonly used, it can structurally support itself and does not require internal wood or steel beams.

Exhibition Title: Asheville Art Museum: An Introduction to the Collection
Label Date: 2021
Type: Catalogue Entry
Written by: Whitney Richardson


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