At the end of the 19th century painting on porcelain had become a popular pastime that allowed women to express their artistic talents in an area other than needlework. Edward Lycett was a pioneer in this movement in the 1860s. His studios had produced designs for hotels and for the White House. In the 1870s he became one of the leading instructors in St. Louis and Cincinatti.

Interest in this new art form grew rapidly. Marie Eggers, an immigrant from Dresden, started teaching in 1874. The standard of her students' work was so high that that their pieces were exhibited at the Philadephia Centennial Exposition. This led Mary Louise MClaughlin to publish "China Painting, A Practical Manual", the first book with directions for amateurs in America.

The resulting enthusiasm was so great that Porcelain Clubs were formed in the major urban areas. By 1881 china painting studios were established throughout the country and the Osgood Art School was founded in New York. Meanwhile in Washington D.C., in the early 1890s Caroline Harrison, wife of President Benjamin Harrison, conducted a series of china-painting classes in the White House conservatory. An amateur artist, she decorated china blanks with floral motifs similar to those she executed on paper.

Many women became recognized artists and worked for a living. Others were happy to decorate wares for their own homes and as gifts for relatives and friends.

The Limoges, Austrian and Bavarian manufactures made blanks that were sold in the United States. These could be bought at china painting schools and in department stores, where all the china painting supplies and paints were available.