Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Claret jug
  • Claret jug
    Dresser, Christopher, born 1834 - died 1904
  • Enlarge image

Claret jug

  • Place of origin:

    Birmingham (made)

  • Date:

    26/03/1879 (design registered)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Dresser, Christopher, born 1834 - died 1904 (designer)
    Hukin and Heath (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Glass and silver

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 125, Edwin and Susan Davies Gallery, case 1

Object Type
This jug is the most traditional of the metalwork objects designed by Christopher Dresser (1834-1904) in the V&A's collection. It harks back to the form of a late 18th-century chocolate pot, although in a thoroughly abstract style. The classical urn shape, the tripod stand, the high handle and the beak-like spout are derived from Neo-classical precedents, reduced here to their simplest outlines. Claret, a red wine from the Bordeaux region of France, was traditionally served at the table in the 19th century in a glass jug or decanter.

Design & Designing
Christopher Dresser is often regarded as the 'father of industrial design'. He designed utilitarian objects for the general public while making full use of the latest techniques of mass production. Dresser's most innovative designs were for objects to be made in metal. His designs for ceramics and glass often resemble plant forms in their shape, ornamentation or colouring, but his designs for metalwork objects tend to be fully abstract. He frequently employed symmetrical, rectilinear shapes and undecorated surfaces. This was partly due to the intrinsic value of silver and gold, which he specified should be used economically in order to make the object affordable. This is in keeping with his ethical attitude towards economy in design.

Dresser was a prolific worker and produced designs for numerous manufacturers, including Hukin & Heath (about 1878-1890s), Elkington & Co. (about 1875-1888) and James Dixon & Sons (about 1879-1890s). Some of his designs were considered too ahead of their time to go into production, and six exist only as prototypes.

Physical description

The artist's Japanese influence, and his keen understanding of geometrical form are clearly seen in this glass jug mounted in silver.

Place of Origin

Birmingham (made)


26/03/1879 (design registered)


Dresser, Christopher, born 1834 - died 1904 (designer)
Hukin and Heath (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Glass and silver


Height: 24 cm, Diameter: 16 cm

Object history note

Designed by Christopher Dresser (born in Glasgow, 1834, died in Mulhouse, France, 1904) and manufactured by Hukin & Heath, Birmingham

Descriptive line

Claret jug, silver and glass, Birmingham, 1879, made by Hukin and Heath, designed by Christopher Dresser.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This is one of Dresser's most distinctive re-interpretations of a traditional form. He has emphasised and strengthened the handle by putting it on the same plane as the lid then continuing it down to become one of the feet. This type of animal-like foot is a standard element used in several of Dresser's other designs. [27/03/2003]


Glass; Drinking; British Galleries; Scotland


Metalwork Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.