Sylvia Leuchovius was a ceramist, designer and artist. She decorated Rörstrand’s jubilee service Sylvia and became famous for her wall plates. She also worked in stoneware.
Sylvia Leuchovius was born in 1915 in Linneryd in the southern Swedish province of Småland. She was the only daughter of the organist and church singer Karl Johan Leuchovius and his wife Frida Elvira. The family also had three sons, Aron Vivert, Filip and Kurt. The family eventually moved to Alingsås near Gothenburg.
In her youth, Sylvia Leuchovius wanted to become a fashion designer or artist since her great interests were fashion and drawing. She trained first as a seamstress but at the age of 30, she started at the crafts school Slöjdföreningens skola (now HDK-Valand, Högskolan för Konst och Design) in Gothenburg. There she attended the section for decorative arts and graphics and qualified in 1949.
After having completed her education, the school’s headmaster recommended her to Rörstrand. She moved to Lidköping and that same year she was appointed as an artist there with the main assignment of creating decors. She worked mostly in stoneware and made unique wall plates and figures as well as flintstone trays with ceramic still life artworks. In 1952, Rörstrand presented four ceramists at an exhibition with their latest works. The quartet consisted of Hertha Bengtson, Marianne Westman, Maria Hackman-Dahlén and Sylvia Leuchovius, whose wall plates were considered to have ”romantic tones”. The critic liked her fish best, that ”were reminiscent of Persian enamel”.
During the rest of the 1950s, Sylvia Leuchovius had the assignment of creating a relief for the library in Tolered in Gothenburg, and she was awarded a silver medal for her works, medaglia d’argento, at the Triennal in Milan. In the company of among others Hertha Hillfon, she exhibited at the crafts exhibition Slöjdföreningens utställning Form i Centrum in Stockholm. In 1959, Rörstrand, Nationalmuseum in Stockholm and Röhsska museet in Gothenburg among others were invited to participate in an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Several ceramists from Rörstrand participated, among them Sylvia Leuchovius. She showed some of the works for which she had become most known: chamotte plates with slipware and glazes with subdued colours and decorative compositions. In the Sunday Times she was praised, as were Carl Harry Stålhane, Hertha Bengtson and Marianne Westman.
Several of the ceramists working for Rörstrand and Gustavsberg cooperated in the exhibition of Nordic ceramics in New York in 1960. The works by Sylvia Leuchovius that were most often mentioned were reputed to be dreamy and fragile though they were beginning to be ”slightly more robust with subtle features”. However, her world of motifs was still poetic and consisted of plants, birds and children. It has been described as ”poetry in clay and colour”.
1962 was the year for her first solo exhibition. It took place at Rörstrand’s new exhibition hall, inaugurated the same day, at Valhallavägen in central Stockholm. In an article in the major daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter, Sylvia Leuchovius is seen happily smiling next to one of her wall plates and in another photo, her round, flowering ceramic eggs are shown. Her dishes and vases are modelled thinly, not made on a potter’s wheel, with “moulding” colours and a transparent glaze. Instead of painting the decor, she had hand-rolled small balls of clay to create the effect of relief.
Nordiska Kompaniet later presented a collection of atelier-made vases, dishes and wall plates marked SL or S Leuchovius. These were only made in a limited edition. Some years later, Rörstrand presented unique stoneware by Sylvia Leuchovius in its exhibition hall at Birger Jarlsgatan in central Stockholm. During the 1970s, she was awarded two culture scholarships from the county councils in Skaraborg and Älvsborg.
In 1971, Rörstrand started to wind up its art workshop and at that point dismissed all its artists. The year after, however, Sylvia Leuchovius was given a freelance contract allowing her periods of work in the factory. She designed the coffee service Select as well as the décor for the services Paljette and Toscana. When Rörstrands Porslinsfabrik celebrated its two hundred and fiftieth jubilee in 1976, she was given the assignment of decorating the jubilee service Sylvia on Marianne Westman’s goods in feldspar porcelain. It consisted of 23 pieces. At the jubilee, a permanent porcelain museum was opened, where the production of 250 years may be seen.
In 1976, Sylvia Leuchovius had yet another solo exhibition with her latest production of ceramic art. After that, she retired and moved back to Alingsås. There she spent her last years developing her picture painting.
During the years, Sylvia Leuchovius participated in about 40 exhibitions for Rörstrand, in Sweden and abroad. She made study trips to Belgium, the USA and Italy. Her public decorations may be seen for example in Kungsladugård School in Gothenburg, where she created ceramic walls, and in Lidköping Hospital. She is represented in the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, the Röhsska Museet in Gothenburg, in Trondheim and in the USA.
Sylvia Leuchovius died on 31 March 2003 at 88 years of age. Her remains rest in the Alingsås City Cemetery.