Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Art History

First Advisor

Charles Brownell


According to the tile historian Thomas Bruhn, the period between 1870 and 1930 was the only period when tiles had a significant role in American ceramics. One of the leading tile companies during this period was the American Encaustic Tiling Company of Zanesville, Ohio, which created high-quality art tile. Virginia Commonwealth University has a virtual gallery of American Encaustic tiles in a four-block range along West Franklin Street. In particular, Virginia Commonwealth University has embossed tile fireplace surrounds in three houses that can be matched up to the American Encaustic catalogue of ca. 1890. Two of these houses have tile surrounds that are attributable to Herman Carl Mueller. The University also has encaustic tile pavements in various locations. This thesis will tell the story of American Encaustic tiles, especially in relation to Virginia Commonwealth University; will examine the lives and works of three of the firm's designers, Herman Carl Mueller (1854-1941), Léon Victor Solon (1872-1957), and Frederick Hurten Rhead (1880-1942); will refine the firm's history and acknowledge previously unknown American Encaustic employees via the discovery of patents; and will identify American Encaustic tiles at the Mosque, now the Landmark Theater, and tentatively attribute them to Rhead.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission