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Flower pot

Flower pot

  • Place of origin:

    London (possibly, made)
    France (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1785-1790 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Tin-glazed earthenware, painted in blue

  • Credit Line:

    Mellor Bequest

  • Museum number:

    CIRC.41-1963

  • Gallery location:

    Europe 1600-1815, Room 1, case CA23

The first aerial voyage made in Great Britain was by Vincenzo Lunardi. A Tuscan, though secretary to the Neapolitan Embassy, he made his first ascent on 15 September 1784 from the ground of the Honourable Artillery Company at Moorfields in the City of London. He was accompanied by a pigeon, a cat, a dog, a bottle of wine and a leg of chicken. He touched down briefly at North Mimms, where the cat abandoned ship, and finally landed near Ware in Hertfordshire. The distance was twenty-four miles and it was covered in two hours and a quarter. Describing the event the Gentleman's Magazine reported: 'The balloon was seen to rise, with all the majesty that heart could wish, to the astonishment of millions, who, scarcely open to conviction, beheld it with a kind of awful terror, which rather closed their lips to stupid silence, then prompted them to rend the air, as might have been expected, with joyful acclamations' (The Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Chronicle , 1784 (Part II), p.711). In his own account of the ascent, printed for the author in 1784, Lunardi wrote that after a sudden silence the crowd 'passed from incredulity and menace to the most extravagant expressions of approbation and joy'. On landing, some terrified labourers refused to help him, until persuaded by a girl working with them, exclaiming that 'they would have nothing to do with one who came in the Devil's house (or possibly Devil's horse)'. Later in the same year he exhibited his balloon at the Pantheon. This flight and subsequent ones made in the following year - one from St. George's Fields, Southwark, close to the delftware potteries - aroused considerable interest, as did the flight by Jean Pierre Blanchard and Dr John Jeffries, his American patron, on 7 January 1785, when they crossed the Channel from England to France. In order to gain height they desperately jettisoned all extra weight, including Blanchard's trousers. Both Lunardi's and Blanchard's flights are recorded on English delftware.

The balloon ascent depicted on this flower pot appears to show that of Blanchard and Jeffries of 7 January 1785, but the details are too sketchy to be certain. The shape is of a general type frequently found in Continental faience. However a very few, more elaborate, examples are known which can be shown to be English and Irish. At this late date there were very few delftware factories still in existence, and the majority of these were in London.

Information taken from Archer, Michael. Delftware: the tin-glazed earthenware of the British Isles. A catalogue of the collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: HMSO, in association with the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1997.

Physical description

Flower pot, tin-glazed earthenware, with blue painted decoration. The front has a vase of flowers and pendant swags of flowers and leaves. The back shows a crowd watching a balloon ascent. The top has marbling.
The pot has seven concave facets on the front, a flat back pierced with two holes for hanging, a top pierced with a semi-circular hole and a row of seven round holes all made before firing. Three circular slightly projecting unglazed areas on the underside which may have been (Alphabetic shape codes as used in appendix to Archer. Delftware. 1997) feet broken off and ground down or connected in some way with the firing.

Place of Origin

London (possibly, made)
France (possibly, made)

Date

ca. 1785-1790 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Tin-glazed earthenware, painted in blue

Dimensions

Height: 7 cm, Width: 13.5 cm

Object history note

Horne had a pair similar bough pots in 1986 (Horne Pottery No 141) and others of identical shape passed through the salesrooms (Christie's 4:6:1979 Lot 20 and Sotheby's 20:10:1981 Lot 33). A pair in a private collection, much more like the Museum's pot, are painted in polychrome of a type only found at Dublin.

Note from a delftware flask commemorating Lunardi's ascent in a balloon, 3846-1901, reads:

This flask commemorates the first aerial voyage made in Great Britain. Vincenzo Lunardi, a Tuscan, though secretary to the Neapolitan Embassy, made his first ascent on 15 September 1784 from the ground of the Honourable Artillery Company at Moorfields in the City of London. He was accompanied by a pigeon, a cat, a dog, a bottle of wine and a leg of chicken. He touched down briefly at North Mimms, where the cat abandoned ship, and finally landed near Ware in Hertfordshire. The distance was twenty-four miles and it was covered in two hours and a quarter. Describing the event the Gentleman's Magazine reported: 'The balloon was seen to rise, with all the majesty that heart could wish, to the astonishment of millions, who, scarcely open to conviction, beheld it with a kind of awful terror, which rather closed their lips to stupid silence, then prompted them to rend the air, as might have been expected, with joyful acclamations'(The Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Chronicle , 1784 (Part II), p.711). In his own account of the ascent, printed for the author in 1784, Lunardi wrote that after a sudden silence the crowd 'passed from incredulity and menace to the most extravagant expressions of approbation and joy'. On landing, some terrified labourers refused to help him, until persuaded by a girl working with them, exclaiming that 'they would have nothing to do with one who came in the Devil's house (or possibly Devil's horse)'. Later in the same year he exhibited his balloon at the Pantheon. This flight and subsequent ones made in the following year - one from St. George's Fields, Southwark, close to the delftware potteries - aroused considerable interest, as did the flight by Jean Pierre Blanchard and Dr John Jeffries, his American patron, on 7 January 1785, when they crossed the Channel from England to France. In order to gain height they desperately jettisoned all extra weight, including Blanchard's trousers. Both Lunardi's and Blanchard's flights are recorded on English delftware. Various visual records were available to the potters including an aquatint by Jukes and an admission ticket fro Lunardi's ascent (For material relating to ballooning, see Bonham's catalogue of the sale of a collection of Fine Ballooning Art, 16:12:1991). Garner found a number of fragments of dishes showing a Lunardi ascent. The shape of the cage under the balloon shown on the Museum's flask indicates that it is the one used on the first ascent (The author is grateful to Charles Gibbs-Smith for information supplied for this entry).

Archer, Michael. Delftware: the tin-glazed earthenware of the British Isles. A catalogue of the collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: HMSO, in association with the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1997.

Descriptive line

Flower pot, tin-glazed earthenware, decorated with a ballooning scene and floral patterns, possibly made in England or France around 1785-1790.

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

Archer, Michael. Delftware: the tin-glazed earthenware of the British Isles. A catalogue of the collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: HMSO, in association with the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1997. ISBN 0 11 290499 8

Production Note

London or may be Continental, perhaps French

Materials

Earthenware; Tin glaze

Techniques

Glazed; Painted

Subjects depicted

Balloons; Festoons; Crowd scenes

Categories

Delftware; Ceramics

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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