Thornton Utz, Hamilton Collection Plates

Updated on April 23, 2018

Artist Thornton Utz, 1980 "Dawn" Precious Moments Collection Plate

Viletta & Artist Thornton Utz 1980 DAWN Precious Moments Collection Plate. Made by Viletta China & artist Thornton Utz. This is the fifth issue in the Precious moments Collection, titled DAWN, dated 1980.  Plate is 8 3/8" in diameter.
Viletta & Artist Thornton Utz 1980 DAWN Precious Moments Collection Plate. Made by Viletta China & artist Thornton Utz. This is the fifth issue in the Precious moments Collection, titled DAWN, dated 1980. Plate is 8 3/8" in diameter.

Artist Thornton Utz Enjoys a Multi-Faceted Career

Thornton Utz enjoyed a multi-faceted career in which he pursued his various artistic talents: as an illustrator, a portraitist, a fine art painter, and in the 1970s and 1980s, as a collector plate artist.

Utz did the cover artwork for over fifty issues of the Saturday Evening Post during the magazine's golden era, and he contributed illustrations to almost all major American magazines. Then he began to pursue portraiture of both children and adults, winning commissions from noted figures, including royalty, all over the world. Utz painted the late Princess Grace of Monaco, the family of former President Jimmy Carter, Astronaut Alan Shepard and Humorist Erma Bombeck, among others. He also has created scores of wonderful portraits of children for their adoring parents and grandparents. These superb paintings command $5,000 and up.

Utz Was Born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1914

Thornton Utz was born in Memphis, Tennessee, November 15, 1914. Thornton Utz studied at the American Academy of Arts in Chicago and taught at the Art Institute before moving to Westport, Connecticut.
Thornton Utz was born in Memphis, Tennessee, November 15, 1914. Thornton Utz studied at the American Academy of Arts in Chicago and taught at the Art Institute before moving to Westport, Connecticut.

Thornton Utz was born in Memphis, Tennessee

The Life of Thornton Utz In the Early 1980s in Sarasota, Florida

In the early 1980s Thornton Utz would get up before 5:00 AM work in his studio until breakfast when he would be joined by his wife Maud and the youngest of his six children, Dawn, and Scott. At his easel until lunch he would make the short walk to his home, take a nap, then continues painting until 5:30 PM or 6:00 PM. During the day the tall gray-hared artist spent much of his time on portraits of both young and old. Famous for his painting of some of the worlds's most famous people. Utz was most at ease painting children - in particular little girls. At this time Utz and his family lived in a home designed and built by the artist himself in Siesta Key, Sarasota, Florida.

1980 Limited Edition Collector Plate "Dawn" Viletta / Thornton Utz

One of Thornton Utz most famous endeavors is this Precious Moments ... "Dawn" featuring this little girl at a magical moment in childhood.
One of Thornton Utz most famous endeavors is this Precious Moments ... "Dawn" featuring this little girl at a magical moment in childhood.

"A Gift of Love" by Thornton Utz 1983 Masterwork Collectors Plate

A strictly limited, first issue Mother's Day offering, A Gift of Love by Thornton Utz, was made in the year 1983 and is an Utz Masterwork that was offered as an exclusive Hamilton Collection limited edition.
A strictly limited, first issue Mother's Day offering, A Gift of Love by Thornton Utz, was made in the year 1983 and is an Utz Masterwork that was offered as an exclusive Hamilton Collection limited edition.

"A Gift of Love" and Its Creator

Ever since his first collector plate series debuted in 1979 with the charming "A Friend in the Sky" issue, Thornton Utz has hoped for the opportunity to create and introduce a limited edition plate tribute to mothers and Mother's Day. With "A Gift of Love," Utz's wish came true - This plate represents the first time that Thornton Utz has introduced a limited edition on a Mother's Day theme. But what could be more natural for a portraitist who has pleased millions over the last few decades from the 1950s to the 1980s with his heartwarming glimpses of children and family life?

An Utz Masterwork - An Exclusive Hamilton Limited Edition

A Glimpse at a Young Mother's Love

A sentimental favorite for Utz and his family is the "A Gift to Love" plate - a glimpse at a young mother who enjoys a tender moment with her tow young offspring. This fine porcelain, 24K gold rimmed plate is an exclusive offering of the The Hamilton Collection. It measures 8 1/2 in diameter and was issued in an edition limited to the exact number ordered by Mother's Day, 1983.

Strictly Limited, Issue Closes Forever on Mother's Day 1983

Thornton Utz always wanted to create a Mother's Day portrait that would celebrate one of the special little moments that a mother remembers, long after her children are grown.
Thornton Utz always wanted to create a Mother's Day portrait that would celebrate one of the special little moments that a mother remembers, long after her children are grown.

Utz Is Famed for His Popular Limited Edition Collector Plates

Thornton Utz first rose to prominence as an illustrator for many of America's most respected publications. He did the artwork for over fifty issues of the Saturday Evening Post covers, and his works have adorned the pages of McCall's, Ladies' Home Journal and scores of other top magazines of the 1950s through the 1980s. In addition to illustration and portraiture, Utz is famed for his popular limited edition collector plates. Utz has introduced a series of girl - subject plates and a second series of boy subjects, as well as an annual child - subject collection.

"A Friend in the Sky" Plate Was Made in 1979

Precious Moments collection "A Friend in the Sky" 1979 plate by Thornton Utz for Viletta.  A girl with a piece of bread in one hand and a part of that bread in the other, offering it to the bird flying overhead as she looks at it in awe.
Precious Moments collection "A Friend in the Sky" 1979 plate by Thornton Utz for Viletta. A girl with a piece of bread in one hand and a part of that bread in the other, offering it to the bird flying overhead as she looks at it in awe.

A Porcelain Work of Art of Stunning Beauty

Thornton Utz canvas is actually a piece of board which he treats with many carefully - applied layers of gesso. Then over a period of days or weeks the "original Utz" will emerge: a painting which captures the spirit and beauty of each individual character, while describing their relationship with great sensitivity. Utz works with The Hamilton Collection to make sure his subtle coloration are retained for the porcelain medium. And in turn The Hamilton Collection insists on the purest, whitest, most translucent porcelain available so that no distortions of tone may interfere with the art presentation. The result is a porcelain work of art of stunning beauty ... unsurpassed realism and lasting quality.

Villetta Plate #5427D, Firing Date 11-11-79, Firing Master R.T.

This is Villetta plate #5427D, Firing Date 11-11-79, Firing Master R.T.  This plate is a 1979 original painting by the american artist THORNTON UTZ for the first issue of the limited edition PRECIOUS MOMENTS collection.
This is Villetta plate #5427D, Firing Date 11-11-79, Firing Master R.T. This plate is a 1979 original painting by the american artist THORNTON UTZ for the first issue of the limited edition PRECIOUS MOMENTS collection.

His Work Celebrates Children and Their Innocence

Thornton Utz adores children, and his work celebrates their innocence, their charm and their boundless energy. In son doing, he attracts a legion of fans and supporters. "Autumn Wanderer" is an original plate-paining by one of America's foremost portraitist and creator of the celebrated "Friend in the Sky" plate. This is a wonderful first issue plate from Viletta China for The Hamilton Collection.

Collectors Plate "Autumn Wanderer" Created by Thornton Utz for Viletta

"Autumn Wanderer" First issue in the "Carefree Days Plate Collection" trom an original painting by American artist Thornton Utz for Viletta China Company
"Autumn Wanderer" First issue in the "Carefree Days Plate Collection" trom an original painting by American artist Thornton Utz for Viletta China Company

Utz captures A Moment of Freedom on a Sun-swept Fall Day

A moment of freedom on a sun-swept fall day - and the little boy in Thornton Utz's "Autumn Wanderer" painting contemplates his options for fun. A run through the waist-high wheat, then a stroll to the barn where liquid-eyed cows and fresh-curried horses await his company! His dark eyes glow with excitement and joy at the simple pleasures of the day. He seems determined to make the most of the crisp autumn air.

"Autumn Wanderer" Issue Price: $24.50 Viletta Fine China

"Autumn Wanderer" actual size is eight and a have inches in diameter. The plate has a gold rim of 24K gold on a creamy white fine china, and is strictly limited to a ten day firing period.
"Autumn Wanderer" actual size is eight and a have inches in diameter. The plate has a gold rim of 24K gold on a creamy white fine china, and is strictly limited to a ten day firing period.

This is a Certificate of Authenticity for a "Autumn Wanderer"

This hand numbered Certificate of Authenticity certifies "Autumn Wanderer" as the first issue in the Viletta "Carefree Days" Collection by Thornton Utz.
This hand numbered Certificate of Authenticity certifies "Autumn Wanderer" as the first issue in the Viletta "Carefree Days" Collection by Thornton Utz.

The Hamilton Collection "Autumn Wanderer" by Thornton Utz

He Has a Sensitive Style with Sunny, Light Bathed Portraits

Since 1960 Utz has attacked the problems of portraiture, sculpture and architecture with pure spontaneity, preserving his characteristic sensitive style with sunny, light bathed portraits, many of children, that glow with happy innocence. His one if his most loved plate collection endeavors is a series entitled "Carefree Days" devoted to small boys and magical moments in childhood.

"Best Friends" 2nd Issue, Carefree Days Series

The Hamilton Collection limited edition collector plate from Viletta China, "Best Friends" by the artist Thornton Utz. It is the 2nd issue in the Carefree Days series of plates. This plate measures 8 1/4" across.
The Hamilton Collection limited edition collector plate from Viletta China, "Best Friends" by the artist Thornton Utz. It is the 2nd issue in the Carefree Days series of plates. This plate measures 8 1/4" across.
"Best Friends" was the second issue in the Viletta "Carefree Days" Collection by Thornton Utz. Hard-fired fine china, and Hand numbered with 24k gold rim.
"Best Friends" was the second issue in the Viletta "Carefree Days" Collection by Thornton Utz. Hard-fired fine china, and Hand numbered with 24k gold rim.

"Best Friends" The Hamilton Collection, by Thornton Utz

The Plate in the Photo Below is "Butterfly Magic"

The plate in the photo below is "Butterfly Magic" it caused quite a stir in Naples, Florida, where the original painting was on Display. Many people contacted the Thornton Utz claiming that they themselves resembled the little girl in the painting when they were younger. It seems her expression is one that many people related to, and, one that keeps the eyes of the viewer literally glued to the canvas - a child Mona Lisa.

"Butterfly Magic" the Premier Plate in the "Portraits of Childhood"

"Butterfly Magic" was the premier plate in the annual "Portraits of Childhood" plate collection by Thornton Utz.
"Butterfly Magic" was the premier plate in the annual "Portraits of Childhood" plate collection by Thornton Utz.

"Butterfly Magic" is an Extraordinary Masterpiece

"Butterfly Magic" is an extraordinary masterpiece, transferred to translucent, smooth, flawless Viletta china. The child has character - a quality not often seen in child portraits - reflected in an innocent yet ageless expression. She perceives the butterfly and examines it with questioning eyes. Her reactions a delightful mixture of wonderment and awe.

"Butterfly Magic" the First Issue in an Exciting New Series

This extraordinary Masterpiece, transferred to translucent, smooth, flawless Viletta china is perhaps the most startling Utz child portrait of the collection.
This extraordinary Masterpiece, transferred to translucent, smooth, flawless Viletta china is perhaps the most startling Utz child portrait of the collection.

His Characteristic Sensitive Style to Produce a Winning Plate

The wonder in a little girl's eye as she beholds a butterfly ... it is something precious and fleeting! And Thornton Utz captured such innocent childhood emotion better than any other American painter of his day. He had a true empathy for his dear little subjects, and they immediate warm to him, providing models of startling freshness and naturalness. "Butterfly Magic" was one such fresh creation, combining the genius of Utz with the charm of an adorable little girl. Warm expressive colors combine with Utz's characteristic sensitive style to produce a winning plate - one which collectors have wanted to display and treasure form many years now.

The back of the "Butterfly Magic" Plate by Viletta China Company

Fine china by Viletta USA with approved major hues, minor hues, detail, china, whiteness, impact strength, tone (duration, purity), smoothness, brilliance, diameter, symmetry, inscription, numbering.
Fine china by Viletta USA with approved major hues, minor hues, detail, china, whiteness, impact strength, tone (duration, purity), smoothness, brilliance, diameter, symmetry, inscription, numbering.

The Certificate of Authenticity for "Butterfly Magic"

This hand numbered certificate certifies "Butterfly Magic" as the first, annual issue in the Viletta "Portraits of Childhood" place collection by Thornton Utz.
This hand numbered certificate certifies "Butterfly Magic" as the first, annual issue in the Viletta "Portraits of Childhood" place collection by Thornton Utz.

Utz Create a Shadowy, Dreamlike Background in "Butterfly Magic"

In "Butterfly Magic" the trees behind the subject create a shadowy, dreamlike background to showcase this fleeting moment - an incident come and gone with the flutter of butterfly wings, preserved by the brush of Thornton Utz for future generations.

A Child Mona Lisa

The premier plate in the annual "Portraits of Childhood" plate collection by Thornton Utz
The premier plate in the annual "Portraits of Childhood" plate collection by Thornton Utz

The Meaning of the "Back Stamp" of "Butterfly Magic"

Viletta China Company, maker of "Butterfly Magic". Plate certification fired on each plate at Viletta China. A first for collector plates with these series; the plate number, firing date and firing master's initials marked at the time of firing.
Viletta China Company, maker of "Butterfly Magic". Plate certification fired on each plate at Viletta China. A first for collector plates with these series; the plate number, firing date and firing master's initials marked at the time of firing.

He Has Won the Praise of Thousands of Collectors

Thornton Utz has won the praise of thousands of collectors for his gentle visions of childhood and family. the artist has a unique gift for capturing the nuances of pose and expression that bring his characters to life for us all. " A Gift of Love" is truly a classic Thornton Utz creation. The artist has done much more than record a treasured moment; he has captured all the emotion - indeed the magic - that makes Mother's Day the special day that is is.

Renowned Illustrator and Portraitist Thornton Utz Himself:

 Renowned Illustrator and Portraitist Thornton Utz wins fame among plate collectors.
Renowned Illustrator and Portraitist Thornton Utz wins fame among plate collectors.

He Illustrated for American Magazines and Many European Ones

Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Thornton Utz studied at the American Academy of Arts in Chicago and taught at the Art Institute before moving to Westport, Connecticut in 1946 after a number of years as a commercial artist in the windy city. In the east, Utz illustrated for most American magazines and many European ones. His credits include 50 commissions for Saturday Evening Post covers - an honor he shares with fellow collector plate artist the late Norman Rockwell. Eventually Utz moved into the fine arts as did many of his contemporaries who had begun a career in art curing the Depression when commercial are meant poverty ... and ... fine art was out of the question.

Utz Asked Questions to His Subjects When Deciding How To Paint Them

Thornton Utz ask questions about his subjects before deciding how to paint them, and, finds that this helps for a more meaningful "end result." A good example is his portrait of Princess Grace of Monaco. Utz found that one of the things the princess likes to do best is walk, so he portrayed her serene highness walking in a wintry setting around her place - a painting that greatly pleased the princess.

He Preferred to Work From Photographs of His Models

The manner in which distinguished portraitist Thornton Utz approaches his subjects accounts for a large measure of his success. The artist preferred to work from photographs of his models, capturing different expressions from many angles. He used a 35 mm camera for still photos, and, also used a video camera to watch his subjects in action - "doing everything they do normally." He would find each has "his or her own quirks ... habits ... pleasures ... delights - all the things that make us individuals!"

He Began Painting Children Only in His Last Years

Amazingly enough, Thornton Utz only in his last years began painting children. One day many years ago while judging an art show, a man approached the artist with a request to do portraits of his grandchildren. Utz politely refused. He did not want to paint traditional cherubic children "with folded hands." But the man persisted, and, finally persuaded the artist to photograph his children "any way you like." these last four words did the trick. Thornton Utz took pictures upon pictures of these little ones. A girl with her back turned, enjoying an ocean breeze ... and other in natural, "real life" activities. He finally finished the project after painting 14 portraits and discovering that he very much enjoyed child subjects. Thornton Utz painted children ever since.

He Taught at Chicago's Prestigious Art Institute

Thornton Utz's works of illustrations, portraiture and sculpture can be found in many noted museums and galleries.
Thornton Utz's works of illustrations, portraiture and sculpture can be found in many noted museums and galleries.

A Beautiful Advertisement Work From His Early Days

This is a beautiful oil painting by Thornton Utz that he did for an Advertisement Firm from his early days.
This is a beautiful oil painting by Thornton Utz that he did for an Advertisement Firm from his early days.

Questions & Answers

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      • Glenn Waters profile image
        Author

        Glenn Waters 2 years ago

        I agree with you "A Friend in the Sky" is a very beautiful plate. It think Thornton Utz was a very talented, and gifted artist, his colors are so soft and touching. The way he uses soft lighting, and moving colors in "A Friend in the Sky" is so amazing :)

        Thank you for your comment :)

      • PaigSr profile image

        PaigSr 2 years ago from State of Confussion

        I am not a big collector of plates. I have had four in my collection. Three Star Trek plates. And one of a tiger that was passed on to my daughter. Of the ones you are sharing my favorite is "A Friend in the Sky".

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