Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 120, The Wolfson Galleries

Jug

ca. 1780 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
Smallish creamware jugs may have been used for purposes other than serving beer - for example, for milk. The swelling barrel-shaped body with flaring foot and rim was one of the most popular jug forms in the last quarter of the 18th century.

Time
The taking of Quebec in 1759 by the British commander James Wolfe was the turning-point in a long-running struggle between the French and British for control of North America. The death of Wolfe at the moment of victory - like that of Nelson in 1805 at Trafalgar - caught the public imagination and turned him into a great hero. The engraving of Benjamin West's painting of 1771- The Death of General Wolfe - became the fastest-selling print of its time on publication in 1776. Yet retrospective representations of historical events are not always what they seem. When Wolfe was dying on the battlefield - the Heights of Abraham at Montreal - he asked his best friend, Colonel John Hale, to take home and present the despatches (the official report of the battle) to George II, who in turn asked Hale to raise a new regiment, the 17th Lancers. Later, Colonel Hale declined to pay the 100 guineas 'admission' required by West (1738-1820), and was excluded from his painting - and of course also from the print by William Woollett (1735-1785). Whether it was due to poverty (Hale had 21 children) or principle is uncertain. But here the arts of painting and printmaking, by deliberately manipulating facts (others are included who were not at Wolfe's side when he died), prove how unreliable they can be regarding historical truth.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Lead-glazed earthenware painted with crimson enamel and transfer-printed with purple
Brief Description
Jug of lead-glazed earthenware painted with crimson enamel and transfer-printed, possibly made by Thomas Wolfe, possibly Staffordshire or Liverpool, ca. 1780.
Physical Description
Jug of lead-glazed earthenware painted with crimson enamel and transfer-printed with purple. On one side is a ship in full sail, and on the other is the death of General Wolfe. Nearly barrel-shaped with a loop handle and projecting lip. Painted round the inside of the rim with a narrow crimson border.
Dimensions
  • Height: 15.24cm
  • Diameter: 12cm
Gallery Label
British Galleries: The decoration of this jug is based on the above engraving by William Woollett, showing the death in 1759 of General Wolfe. The engraving itself was taken from a painting by Benjamin West (1735-1820). Such commemorative wares reinforced the patriotic sentiments that were widespread during the struggle with the French for the control of North America.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Transferred from the Museum of Practical Geology, Jermyn Street
Object history
The death of General Wolfe is copied from the painting by Benjamin West. The jug was possibly made by Thomas Wolfe who claimed a relationship with the General.
Subjects depicted
Summary
Object Type
Smallish creamware jugs may have been used for purposes other than serving beer - for example, for milk. The swelling barrel-shaped body with flaring foot and rim was one of the most popular jug forms in the last quarter of the 18th century.

Time
The taking of Quebec in 1759 by the British commander James Wolfe was the turning-point in a long-running struggle between the French and British for control of North America. The death of Wolfe at the moment of victory - like that of Nelson in 1805 at Trafalgar - caught the public imagination and turned him into a great hero. The engraving of Benjamin West's painting of 1771- The Death of General Wolfe - became the fastest-selling print of its time on publication in 1776. Yet retrospective representations of historical events are not always what they seem. When Wolfe was dying on the battlefield - the Heights of Abraham at Montreal - he asked his best friend, Colonel John Hale, to take home and present the despatches (the official report of the battle) to George II, who in turn asked Hale to raise a new regiment, the 17th Lancers. Later, Colonel Hale declined to pay the 100 guineas 'admission' required by West (1738-1820), and was excluded from his painting - and of course also from the print by William Woollett (1735-1785). Whether it was due to poverty (Hale had 21 children) or principle is uncertain. But here the arts of painting and printmaking, by deliberately manipulating facts (others are included who were not at Wolfe's side when he died), prove how unreliable they can be regarding historical truth.
Bibliographic Reference
Hildyard, Robin. European Ceramics. London : V&A Publications, 1999. 144 p., ill. ISBN 185177260X
Collection
Accession Number
3630-1901

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record createdDecember 4, 2002
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