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This jug features a relief image on either side of the famous 19th century animal trainer Isaac Van Amburgh (1808-1865) performing with lions, tigers and a panther. Under its rim is a decoration of a swagged theatre curtain, a reference to the fact that Van Amburgh often performed his act in theatres, as well as in the circus.
Van Amburgh, three quarters Dutch and one quarter Cherokee Indian, was born in America and made his name there with the Titus Menagerie before coming to England in 1838 and attracting considerable attention by his Drury Lane performance which entranced Queen Victoria so much that she attended three performances in two weeks and wrote about it in her diaries. In 1839 The Duke of Wellington commissioned Landseer to paint his portrait, and numerous engravings of him appeared performing various dramatic episodes with his beasts such as The Brute Tamer of Pompeii. The manufacturers of this moulded Staffordshire jug would have copied an engraving for this image of him, and produced the jug in two sizes. Since Van Amburgh toured England on several occasions and was a sensation wherever he went, the jug would have been a popular souvenir.
Glazed sky blue earthenware jug with handle decoratively shaped in the form of a lion and relief moulded decoration on each side showing Isaac Van Amburgh performing with lions by his side and a panther on his shoulder. The rim of the opening is decorated with a swagged curtain image and a pattern of leaves under its rim. The decoration on the body includes a row of embossed shields.
Place of Origin
Materials and Techniques
Height: 15.0 cm At tallest point, from base to lip of spout, Diameter: 10.9 cm of round base, Width: 18.0 cm at widest point, across top from lip to handle.
Glazed earthenware jug decorated with moulded images of Isaac Van Amburgh (1808-1865) performing with his big cats. Staffordshire, c.1840. Given by Frances Dann.
Panther; Tigers; Lions
Containers; Ceramics; Entertainment & Leisure
Theatre and Performance Collection