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Maria Longworth Nichols Storer
Birth name Maria Longworth
Nationality American
Movement Ceramics
Works Rookwood Pottery

Maria Longworth Nichols Storer (March 20, 1849April 30, 1932) was the founder of Rookwood Pottery of Cincinnati, Ohio, United States, a patron of fine art and the granddaughter of the wealthy Cincinnati businessman Nicholas Longworth (patriarch of the famous Longworth family).


Born Maria Longworth on March 20, 1849 to Joseph Longworth, Maria was born in Cincinnati, Ohio to perhaps the wealthiest family in the city of that time. Due to her comfortable upbringing, she was immersed in the fine arts at a young age and picked up hobbies like playing piano and painting. She married the American Civil War veteran Colonel George Ward Nichols in 1868, who had been hired by her family to catalog their vast collections of artwork. Mr. Nichols was eighteen years her elder. In 1871, Maria was responsible for planning and raising money for the now annually celebrated Cincinnati May Festival, making her the first female in history to found a music festival in the United States. The first festival was not held until 1873. This was also the year she began painting china.[1][2][3]

In 1876 she attended the Centennial Exposition held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the first world fair held in the United States. By now well along in her skill as a ceramics painter, she returned home to Cincinnati with an appreciation for Japanese art and began incorporating some of those elements into her own work.[4]

Rookwood Pottery[]

In 1879, along with her friend and fellow ceramics painter Mary Louise McLaughlin, Maria commissioned the creation of an under-glaze and over-glaze kiln at a local pottery shop in Cincinnati. Maria was also having pieces of pottery created to her specifications locally, then painting them decoratively. That following year, Nichols founded the now famous Rookwood Pottery, the first woman from Cincinnati to own such a shop. Soon she employed a modest staff consisting of both men and women, including the potter and chemist named Joseph Bailey.[3][5]

One of the first pieces made was the Aladdin Vase, and in 1882 Nichols won a gold medal at the Tenth Cincinnati Industrial Exposition for some of her works. In 1885 George Nichols died, and by March of the following year she was remarried to a lawyer named Bellamy Storer. In the wake of her first husband's death, Storer's output had lessened considerably. In 1889 she won a gold medal at the Paris Exposition, and that same year she handed her small company over to William W. Taylor (whom incorporated the small factory).[5]

Later years[]

From 1891 to 1895 Bellamy Storer was a member of the U.S. Congress, who became foreign minister for the United States to Belgium from 1897 to 1898. In 1896 the couple became Roman Catholics due to the recommendation of Archbishop John Ireland. In 1900, still involved with the arts, she won a gold medal at the Universelle Exposition for her paintings on bronze mediums. In 1899 Bellamy Storer became the foreign minister of Spain, and the two convinced President William McKinley to petition Pope Leo XIII to make Ireland a Cardinal (with the help of New York governor Theodore Roosevelt).[5]

The following year McKinley arranged for a visit with the Pope and authorized the couple to mention John Ireland for consideration. In 1902, when Roosevelt was President, he made Bellamy minister to Austria-Hungary and did not wish to involve himself in advocating for John Ireland. However, Maria continued to press the issue by meeting with members of the Vatican and leaving false impressions with others that Roosevelt backed such sentiments. These events led to the removal of Bellamy as minister, the news of which was rather scandalous at the time. Ironically, Maria's nephew Nicholas Longworth IV came to marry Roosevelt's daughter Alice later, and Storer refused to attend the wedding.[5]

She spent the remaining years of her life performing public charity and writing.


  1. Ellis, Anita J. (2003). The Ceramic Career of M. Louise McLaughlin. Ohio University Press. pp. p. 17. ISBN 0821415042. 
  2. Brunsman, Barrett J.; Rebecca Goodman (2005). This Day in Ohio History. Emmis Books. pp. p. 98. ISBN 1578601916. 
  3. 3,0 3,1 Pendle, Karin; Rebecca Goodman (2001). Women & Music: A History. Indiana University Press. pp. p. 489. ISBN 025321422X. 
  4. Farmer, Lydia Hoyte (1893). The National Exposition Souvenir: What America Owes to Women. C. W. Moulton. pp. p. 469. http://books.google.com/books?id=wasqAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA469&dq=maria+longworth+nichols#PPA469,M1. 
  5. 5,0 5,1 5,2 5,3 McHenry, Robert W. (1983). Famous American Women: A Biographical Dictionary from Colonial Times to the Present. Dover Publications. pp. p. 397. ISBN 0486245233.