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Wine cooler

  • Place of origin:

    Longport (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1805-1810 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Davenport & Co. (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Terracotta, thrown, with moulded handles, painted in enamel and transfer-printed

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the American Friends of the V&A through the generosity of Judy Novak

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 138, The Harry and Carol Djanogly Gallery, case 12, shelf 7

This wine cooler is a bold and very unusual example of the Egyptian revival of the early 19th century. Its technique is also very interesting, as transfer-printing is rarely found on low-fired terracotta. Terracotta was used for wine coolers because of its porosity, which enabled the coolers to be immersed in chilled water before use. A royal order placed with Davenport in 1807 included ‘24 Egyptian porouse Wine Coolers, Embossed & C’ at 10s 6d each, but these are thought to have been painted (rather than transfer-printed, as here).

Davenport was one of the big four English ceramic firms during the early-mid 19th century, alongside Minton, Spode and Wedgwood, and was generally at the cutting edge of design, but not always innovative in terms of materials and techniques. However, the firm left no archive, and in part because it did not pioneer a new ceramic material with which the factory’s name became synonymous (as with Wedgwood with Jasper and Minton with Majolica), and because it left no archive, its importance was largely forgotten until the 1970s.

Physical description

Wine cooler of terracotta with moulded handles, painted in enamel and transfer-printed. Barrel-shaped with handles formed as grotesque dolphin masks; the uppermost part of the body is painted in brown enamel with a band of crude Greek key fret ornament; the central portion of the body is transfer-printed in black with Egyptian motifs; and the lower part is banded top and bottom in brown.

Place of Origin

Longport (made)


ca. 1805-1810 (made)


Davenport & Co. (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Terracotta, thrown, with moulded handles, painted in enamel and transfer-printed

Marks and inscriptions

Erroneously catalogued as bearing the Davenport factory mark (Bonhams, London, 21 September 2005, lot 47).


Diameter: 18.2 cm maximum, Width: 23.5 cm across handles, Height: 23.8 cm

Object history note

Bought from the Joyce Mountain Collection (Bonhams, London, 21 September 2005).

Descriptive line

Wine cooler, terracotta painted in enamels and transfer-printed, Davenport's factory, Longport, ca. 1805-1810

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

For similar examples from the Davenport factory, see G. Godden and T. Lockett's, Davenport: China, Earthenware and Glass, 1794-1887 (1989), p. 106.




Thrown; Moulded; Painted; Transfer printed

Subjects depicted

Dolphin (animal); Grotesques; Key pattern


Ceramics; Tableware & cutlery; Drinking


Ceramics Collection

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