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Face Pitcher

1835-1855
Origin: America, Virginia (possibly)
25 7/16" X 20 3/8" X 16 1/2"
Stoneware, salt-glazed, gray with ocher
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1981.900.1
Large, oversized gray salt-glazed stoneware jug or pitcher. This piece is embellished with the addition of a human face on the front of the pitcher. The eyebrows and ears are highlighted with ochre and the mouth is open showing barred teeth. This piece was most likely intended to be an advertising piece and its style is reminiscent of English Toby jugs.
Label:Large English refined earthenware jugs or pitchers were sometimes put outside shops to indicate that tableware was sold inside. This piece resembles those in size and scale, but the type of ware and decoration are different. Nor does this pitcher fit easily into the American face jug tradition. Much larger than most face vessels, it is not a jug form. It ahs long been supposed that this anomalous piece was created in western Pennsylvania or the valley of Virginia. The quality of its construction and the color and composition of the clay suggest that this pitcher was made by a pottery that was producing industrial stoneware. Whatever the origin or intended function, this sculptural face pitcher with ochre highlights is certainly eye-catching.
--Inspiration and Ingenuity: American Stoneware
Exhibition curated by Suzanne Findlen Hood
At the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum
February 2007

Provenance:Ricks Wilson (see "Source") recalls seeing this pitcher at Bacon's Castle, Surry Co., Va., from the time of his childhood. Walker Pegram Warren, who then owned and occupied Bacon's Castle, was Mr. Wilson's father's first cousin. Bacon's Castle was actually built by an ancestor of Mr. Wilson's, and the property has been in family times until recently when acquired by the APVA. Walker Pegram Warren and his wife both died about 1973. Before them, the property had been owned by WPW's father, Charles Warren, to whom the house had been given as a wedding present by his respective father, William Allen Warren. At the time of Mrs. Walker Pegram Warren's death about 1973, the two houses and property were sold to twenty-one family members, which is when Ricks Wilson acquired the pitcher.
Mr. Wilson remembers that the pitcher stood at the bottom of the stairs in the back tower for many years (a 1972 slide shows the pitcher in just this position). It was then moved to the living room or drawing room.