Mug

ca. 1793 (made)
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Europe 1600-1815, Room 1
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The transfer-printed design on this mug is one of two representations of Louis XVI taking leave of his family before his execution found on English creamware. Both are clearly sympathetic to the King's plight, and there are a further three designs showing the execution itself. Such subjects were evidently popular with the British market. In addition, they would have had a particular relevance to the Staffordshire potters making such wares. Although the great Staffordshire potter and entrepreneur Josiah Wedgwood welcomed the 'glorious revolt that has taken place in France' in 1789, he was also aware that the Staffordshire ceramic industry would suffer from the loss of profitable French markets. He added: 'The politicians tell me that as a manufacturer I shall be ruined if France has her liberty, but I am willing to take my chances in that respect' (letter to Dr Erasmus Darwin July 1789). Other Staffordshire potters, however, were crippled by the loss of French markets and the non-payment of French debts.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Lead-glazed earthenware transfer-printed with black enamel
Brief Description
Mug of cream-coloured lead-glazed earthenware transfer-printed with black enamel, Staffordshire, ca. 1793.
Physical Description
Mug of cream-coloured lead-glazed earthenware transfer-printed with black enamel. Cylindrical with a loop handle. On the front is a print showing Louis XVI taking leave of his family on the morning of his execution.
Dimensions
  • Height: 117mm
  • Diameter: 88mm
  • Including handle width: 117mm
Marks and Inscriptions
  • 'Fletcher & Co. Shelton' (On print)
  • 'Farewell Queen, Children, Sister, Louis cries, / Abate your grief & dry those streaming Eyes, / And O ! my Son if e'er the Crown you wear, / Think of my fate & steer your course with care.' (Below the print)
Gallery Label
Mug depicting Louis XVI taking leave of his family before his execution Made in Staffordshire, about 1793 The print signed 'Fletcher & Co. Shelton' Lead-glazed earthenware with transfer-printed decoration 3638-1901 Jermyn Street Collection(23/05/2008)
Credit line
Transferred from the Museum of Practical Geology, Jermyn Street
Object history
The image on the V&A mug records the printer’s name, signed in the plate, ‘Fletcher & Co. Shelton’. Thomas Fletcher (1762–1802), a former Liverpool ‘pot painter’, moved to Shelton, in Staffordshire, around 1791, where he described himself as a ‘pot printer’ and became involved in several manufacturing partnerships.20 As a ‘black printer’, Fletcher did not engrave the copperplates; rather he hired or commissioned engravers, and also purchased finished engraved plates. The engraving on the mug has been attributed to Thomas Radford (act. 1778–1800), who was an engraver, later based in Shelton, primarily working for the potters John and Ralph Baddeley, until his death.21 Fletcher, who from 1796 focused on ‘the Business in the Printing Line’ (or ‘black printing’), evidently had a large stock of plates at his disposal. On 30 August 1800, around the time of Radford’s death, the Staffordshire Advertiser announced ‘TO BE SOLD BY AUCTION . . . All those valuable COPPER PLATES, for Black Printing, late in the possession of Mr Thomas Fletcher, Black Printer of Shelton; comprising upwards of 450 well selected useful Copper Plates, of the most approved Patterns . . . enquire of Mr. THOMAS BADDELEY, Engraver, Hanley’.22 Fletcher was clearly an enterprising black printer whose name is frequently found on engraved designs from this period.
Subjects depicted
Summary
The transfer-printed design on this mug is one of two representations of Louis XVI taking leave of his family before his execution found on English creamware. Both are clearly sympathetic to the King's plight, and there are a further three designs showing the execution itself. Such subjects were evidently popular with the British market. In addition, they would have had a particular relevance to the Staffordshire potters making such wares. Although the great Staffordshire potter and entrepreneur Josiah Wedgwood welcomed the 'glorious revolt that has taken place in France' in 1789, he was also aware that the Staffordshire ceramic industry would suffer from the loss of profitable French markets. He added: 'The politicians tell me that as a manufacturer I shall be ruined if France has her liberty, but I am willing to take my chances in that respect' (letter to Dr Erasmus Darwin July 1789). Other Staffordshire potters, however, were crippled by the loss of French markets and the non-payment of French debts.
Bibliographic References
  • Bindman, David, The shadow of the guillotine : Britain and the French Revolution, London, British Museum Publications, 1989p.132
  • Drakard, David. Printed English Pottery. London : J. Horne, 1992. 166 p., fig. 446.
Collection
Accession Number
3638-1901

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record createdMarch 31, 2008
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