Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 58, Bromley-by-Bow Room

Bottle

1600-1650 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
In the 16th and 17th centuries German stoneware bottles provided much of Europe with the toughest vessels available. Being general-purpose containers, their capacity varied considerably, ranging between about a pint to a gallon. Because of their extra strength, the smaller sizes have survived in greater numbers.

Ownership & Use
The millions of stoneware bottles imported from the Rhineland into London by Dutch shippers found homes at many social levels, from kitchens to taverns and modestly-furnished dining tables. By the end of the 17th century, however, they were no longer required: stoneware storage bottles were being mass-produced in London, while the black glass wine and beer bottle, and the clear glass decanter, had completely taken over these functions on the dining table. By the early 19th century, bottles that had survived above ground became desirable antiquarian artefacts for the homes of collectors. The market was soon fuelled by regular excavation of complete bottles, which proved almost indestructable. This example was said to have been excavated in London, and at £3 10s (£3.50) was an expensive purchase by the Museum in 1852.

Historical Associations
In Protestant Northern Europe the bearded masks of these ubiquitous stoneware bottles were soon exploited to lampoon a champion of the Counter-Reformation, Cardinal Bellarmine (1542-1621), as well as the Duke of Alba (died 1582), the ruthless Spanish general and administrator who was the scourge of the Spanish Netherlands. Collectors in the 19th century usually referred to these bottles simply as 'greybeards' but the German term 'Bartmann' (bearded man) is now increasingly used.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Salt-glazed stoneware, with moulded applied decoration
Brief Description
Salt-glazed stoneware bottle with moulded applied decoration, Frechen, 1600-1650
Dimensions
  • Height: 23cm
Marks and Inscriptions
The arms are those of the Duchy of Julich-Kleve-Berg in the Rhineland, Germany
Gallery Label
British Galleries: Salt-glazed stoneware bottles were imported to London on a large scale. They were made in the German states and shipped by Dutch merchants trading at the mouth of the River Rhine. Not until the second half of the 17th century could English potters make stoneware of this quality.(27/03/2003)
Object history
Made in Frechen, Germany
Summary
Object Type
In the 16th and 17th centuries German stoneware bottles provided much of Europe with the toughest vessels available. Being general-purpose containers, their capacity varied considerably, ranging between about a pint to a gallon. Because of their extra strength, the smaller sizes have survived in greater numbers.

Ownership & Use
The millions of stoneware bottles imported from the Rhineland into London by Dutch shippers found homes at many social levels, from kitchens to taverns and modestly-furnished dining tables. By the end of the 17th century, however, they were no longer required: stoneware storage bottles were being mass-produced in London, while the black glass wine and beer bottle, and the clear glass decanter, had completely taken over these functions on the dining table. By the early 19th century, bottles that had survived above ground became desirable antiquarian artefacts for the homes of collectors. The market was soon fuelled by regular excavation of complete bottles, which proved almost indestructable. This example was said to have been excavated in London, and at £3 10s (£3.50) was an expensive purchase by the Museum in 1852.

Historical Associations
In Protestant Northern Europe the bearded masks of these ubiquitous stoneware bottles were soon exploited to lampoon a champion of the Counter-Reformation, Cardinal Bellarmine (1542-1621), as well as the Duke of Alba (died 1582), the ruthless Spanish general and administrator who was the scourge of the Spanish Netherlands. Collectors in the 19th century usually referred to these bottles simply as 'greybeards' but the German term 'Bartmann' (bearded man) is now increasingly used.
Collection
Accession Number
2841-1852

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record createdMarch 27, 2003
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