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Jug

1603 (dated)
Origin: Germany, Westerwald
Overall: 8 1/2 x 3 3/4 x 5in. (21.6 x 9.5 x 12.7cm)
Stoneware, salt-glazed
Museum Purchase, The Friends of Colonial Williamsburg Collections Fund
Acc. No. 2008-11
Baluster-shaped jug ornamented with detailed bands of sprig-molded relief panels and medallions which were applied to the surface of the wheel thrown vessel. The primary decoration around the middle of the jug depicts bust-length portraits and coats of arms of the Seven Electors. The Electors were the religious and secular leaders charged with the task of selecting the king of the Germans, who also served as the Holy Roman Emperor. This jug is dated 1603 in the frieze.

The remainder of the jug is covered with complex patterns of molded, stamped, and incised ornamentation. All of the decoration has been highlighted with cobalt blue. Below the midsection is shallow fluting interspersed with patterned bands of varied designs.
Label:The influence of Renaissance architecture and newly available printed images are visible in early stoneware from the Westerwald. For example, baluster-shaped jugs typically feature highly detailed bands of portraits or narrative images framed by arches and columns. Although such early seventeenth-century jugs were formed by throwing on the wheel, their lavish embellishment with sprig-molded relief panels and medallions, most often further enriched with impressed and incised ornament, creates a visual complexity that belies their wheel-thrown construction.

Fragments of similar Seven Electors Jugs have been recovered from the fort at Jamestown, and from Jordan's Journey, a tobacco plantation in Prince George County, Virginia. They are among the earliest examples of gray and blue stoneware found in America. The Jamestown jug is thought to have been made about 1600-1610. It probably was owned by a gentleman member of the Virginia colony and would have served as an unmistakable symbol of status and wealth. These early large serving jugs were ornamented with the portraits and coats of arms of the Seven Electors. The Electors were the religious and secular leaders charged with the task of selecting the king of the Germans, who also served as the Holy Roman Emperor. This intact jug is dated 1603.

Provenance:Purchased from Edwin van Drecht, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Mark(s):Dated 1603