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Jacob and the Mess of Pottage

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1863 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Rossetti, Dante Gabriel, born 1828 - died 1882 (designer)
    Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Clear, coloured and flashed glass with painted details and yellow (silver) stain

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by J. R. Holliday

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, Room 83, The Whiteley Galleries, case S4

The firm of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. was established in 1861. It employed artists such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones, who were instrumental in starting a new trend in the design of stained glass.

The Gothic Revival was a ‘boom period’ for church building and furnishing. But most of the stained glass that was created was noted for its slavish copying of medieval glass. Morris and his friends moved away from this historicism. Their designs for stained glass show a remarkable freedom in style and a softening in the choice of colours and tones.

In 1864 the firm completed a series of windows for the Cathedral of St Peter in Bradford. Dante Gabriel Rossetti designed many panels for these windows, including a full-length version of Jacob and the Mess of Pottage. The panel here is probably a trial piece that was never displayed.

Jacob was one of the Old Testament patriarchs. He was the younger of the twin sons of Isaac, Abraham’s son. The older twin, Esau, was meant to inherit everything. When Esau returned from a long journey, Jacob offered him a mess of pottage to satisfy his hunger. In exchange, he was to give Jacob his birthright as the elder son. Esau agreed to the exchange.

In medieval schemes, this Old Testament story often prefigures the Betrayal of Christ by Judas.

Physical description

Panel of stained and painted glass. A beardless man, three-quarter length and head half-turned to left, wears a dark green robe and a fur pelisse. He has a red pouch hanging at his left side. He holds a light brown skillet containing a lumpy food substance and from which arises a white cloud of steam. The background is dark red. At the sides there is a narrow formal border of clear glass with rosettes executed in silver stain and painted in black enamel. The clear glass borders at the top and bottom are painted with simple wavy lines. Behind the figure's head is a scroll composed of clear glass with yellow (silver) stain and 'Jacob Pathriarcha' painted in black enamel.

Place of Origin

England (made)


ca. 1863 (made)


Rossetti, Dante Gabriel, born 1828 - died 1882 (designer)
Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Clear, coloured and flashed glass with painted details and yellow (silver) stain

Marks and inscriptions

Jacob Patriarcha
Patriarch Jacob


Height: 590 mm fascia frame, Width: 440 mm fascia frame, Weight: 2.48 kg framed, Height: 441 mm sight size, Width: 289 mm sight size, Depth: 37 mm facia frame, Height: 464 mm unframed, Width: 314 mm unframed, Height: 485 mm framed (standard display frame), Width: 333 mm framed (standard display frame), Depth: 32 mm framed (standard display frame)

Object history note

Refer to the J.R. Holliday Bequest Nominal file: It appears that this panel was part of Holliday's personal collection and was one of 20 panels Holliday wished to present to the museum. Out of the 20 panels, which were never further described other than 'early Morris & Co. glass', only this one came to the museum at Holliday's death in 1927.
It seems that the attribution to Burne-Jones, and possibly the date of '1860', begins with Rackham in 1927 when he lists the new acquisitions. He does not describe the subject matter.

Historical significance: This is one of the earliest panels executed by the firm of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. Many of their early panels, whilst exciting in their freedom from historicism and slavish imitation, are quite clumsy in execution.

Historical context note

According to Sewter, the design of this panel is the same as the upper part of the Jacob panel in the east window at Bradford Cathedral, documented as by Rossetti.

Descriptive line

Stained glass panel depicting Jacob and the Mess of Pottage. Designed by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and made by Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. about 1863.

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

A.C. Sewter, The Stained Glass of William Morris and his Circle, 2 vols., Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1974, pp.102-5

Labels and date


Jacob holds before him the mess of pottage (the bowl of broth for which his twin Esau traded his birthright). This panel was probably made as a trial piece or for showing at the 1862 International Exhibition; it shares the same design with the upper part of the figure of Jacob in the east window of Bradford Cathedral, documented as by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

England (London), about 1862; designed by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-82) and executed by Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co.
Museum no. C.322-1927; bequeathed by J.R. Holliday [(PW) 2004]

Production Note

Design originally attributed to Edward Burne-Jones

Attribution note: The design of this panel is the same as the upper part of the Jacob panel made for Bradford Cathedral. This panel may have been produced as part of the commission, perhaps as a trial piece.


Glass; Lead; Stained glass


Pot metal; Flashing; Painting; Silver staining

Subjects depicted

Pouch; Skillet; Betrayal; Pottage


Stained Glass; Religion; Christianity; British Galleries

Production Type



Ceramics Collection

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