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  • Ewer
    Jeannest, Pierre-Emile, born 1813 - died 1857
  • Enlarge image


  • Place of origin:

    Staffordshire (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1862 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Jeannest, Pierre-Emile, born 1813 - died 1857 (designer)
    Minton (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Earthenware, glazed

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 145, case 51 []

This massive and ambitious ewer and stand is one of Minton's most imposing exhibition pieces and was shown at the International Exhibition in London in 1862. It exemplifies the use, in Victorian design, of a number of historical sources in combination with the latest in nineteenth-century ceramic techniques.

The stand is painted with the labours of Hercules, after Lebrun and the ewer is painted from engravings by Raffaello Guidi after Polidoro da Caravaggio.

Originally intended for hand-washing before a meal, by Renaissance times ewer and basins were display pieces indicative of wealth and status. Their form is here revived to demonstrate Minton's excellence of design and command of the new 'majolica' glazes.

The Minton company pioneered the development of majolica glazes, and the materials and processes were perfected by the art director, Joseph François Léon Arnoux (1816-1902), in 1849. These were based in part on Italian Renaissance maiolica and Bernard Palissy's pottery, but whereas maiolica pigments are painted onto a raw tin glaze (which fired to an opaque white), Minton's majolica, like Palissy's pottery, used brightly coloured semi-transparent lead glazes applied to the biscuit-fired body. Much of commercial majolica production was naturalistically modelled with broad treatment of colour, but this ewer and stand, expressly made to demonstrate the medium's potential, is mannerist in sculptural style and very finely painted onto the biscuit body, with designs taken from sixteenth- and late seventeenth-century sources. In terms of contemporary taste and usage, majolica suited the imposing interiors of Victorian houses and appealed to the antiquarian and sentimental interest in the past.

Physical description

Earthenware ewer and stand with underglaze painting and majolica glazes.The ewer a classical shape with a moulded mermaid below the spout, the handle modelled as a merman bending backwards and clutching his divided foliate tail, the body of the ewer, naturalistically painted with deities standing in niches, the stand with four panels painted with the labours of Hercules contained by moulded masks and foliage.

Place of Origin

Staffordshire (made)


ca. 1862 (made)


Jeannest, Pierre-Emile, born 1813 - died 1857 (designer)
Minton (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Earthenware, glazed

Marks and inscriptions

Impressed on stand


Weight: 9.85 kg, Height: 72.8 cm

Object history note

Purchased from International Exhibition, 1862

Descriptive line

Ewer and stand, earthenware with underglaze majolica glazes, Minton, ca.1862

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

See Ceramics & Glass Object Information File
Liefkes, Reino and Hilary Young, eds. Masterpieces of World Ceramics.. London: V & A Publishing, 2008. pp. 116 -117, ill. ISBN 9781 851 775279.





Subjects depicted





Ceramics Collection

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