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Loving cup

  • Place of origin:

    Staffordshire (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1840 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Lead-glazed earthenware with underglaze transfer-printed decoration

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased through the Julie and Robert Breckman Staffordshire Fund

  • Museum number:

    C.1-2002

  • Gallery location:

    Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, Room 83, The Whiteley Galleries, case 6C

This type of ceramic two-handled cup was formerly used in services in the Methodist Church. The front of this cup bears the words' Love Feast'. In early Methodist services people gathered round and shared a simple meal of bread and water, the water being drunk from communal cups such as this one.

This meal, known as a 'Love Feast', was distinct from Holy Communion. The focal point of the Love-Feast was the testimony, the spiritual 'sharing' to which the taking of food and drink together was the symbolic prelude. Love-Feast was one of the most popular religious meetings, due to it being one of the more sociable religious meetings.

The 'Love Feast' has its origins in the early Christian church, when it was known as the 'Agape'. 'Agape' means 'love' in Greek.

Physical description

Cylindrical pot with two handles, transfer-printed with romantic landscapes and the words "LOVE FEAST". Lead-glazes earthenware.

Place of Origin

Staffordshire (made)

Date

ca. 1840 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Lead-glazed earthenware with underglaze transfer-printed decoration

Marks and inscriptions

"LOVE FEAST"
Decoration; Incoporated into decoration on side of cup; transfer-printed

Dimensions

Height: 12.2 cm, Width: 20 cm including handles, Diameter: 12.2 cm of cup

Historical context note

The love-feast is a communal fellowship meal. The focal point of the Love-Feast was the testimony, the spiritual 'sharing' to which the taking of food and drink together was the symbolic prelude. Love-Feast was one of the most popular religious meetings, due to it being one of the more sociable religious meetings.

It began in Apostolic times when Christians periodically observed a common meal known as the Agape (the word Agape means love in Greek).

The Agape fell into decline for many years, but was resurrected in the 1720s when the Moravians (a Lutheran branch of Christianity) spontaneously re-introduced the love-feast as a common meal for social intercourse and religious rejoicing.

Moravian missionaries took this custom with them on their 1737 voyage to America. John and Charles Wesley were also travelling to America on the same ship. They were most impressed by the Moravian's simple faith and sincerity. Later, John Wesley became more critical of the Moravians, and they in turn became critical of him.

Descriptive line

Two-handled loving cup, transfer-printed with romantic views and "Love Feast", Staffordshire, about 1840

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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