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Ewer - The Neptune Jug

The Neptune Jug

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1850 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    J. G. Green (retailer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Clear glass, wheel-engraved

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 122, case 4

Object Type
This water jug was much admired at the Great Exhibition for its elegant shape and engraved design. It draws inspiration from the Ancient Greek oinochoe shape, characterised by a high, curling handle and three-lipped mouth. It also echoes French Renaissance forms, themselves based on classical styles. The finely engraved scene of Neptune and accompanying figures serves to emphasise both the classical inspiration for the design and the intended use of the jug for water.

Joseph George Green, designer and manufacturer, of 19 St James's Street, Piccadilly, London, was awarded a prize medal at the Great Exhibition for his wheel-engraving, a technique that uses rotating discs (usually of copper) to cut a decorative design in glass. He is known to have ordered some of his glass vessels from W.H.B. Richardson of Stourbridge, though probably to his own design requirements.

Historical Associations
The glassware assembled at Green's stand in the Crystal Palace was praised for the 'general excellence of (the) forms' and 'large adherence to those principles which have been considered as best regulating the true use of this beautiful material'. The report of the Exhibition jury went on to give this judgement of Green's work: 'In his blown glass jugs, water-bottles and wine glasses, some of the purest forms derived from Greek utensils have been selected and adapted to the material and to present use. They have been decorated with ground ornamental forms in bands, and although the ornament is sometimes too redundant and dispersed, it is in the right direction.'

Physical description

Exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851. Transferred from the Museum of Practical Geology.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1850 (made)


J. G. Green (retailer)

Materials and Techniques

Clear glass, wheel-engraved


Height: 34 cm, Diameter: 21 cm, Diameter: 11.4 cm base

Object history note

Manufactured for the retailers J.G. Green; the jug possibly made by W.H.B. Richardson, Stourbridge, West Midlands

Descriptive line

Ewer, England, made by an unknown manufacturer for J. G. Green, retailers, 1850-1851, 4453-1901 .

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

B. Morris, Victorian Table Glass and Ornaments, London 1978, p. 79, pl. 44;
Corning, Glass from the World's Fairs, 1986;
Bryant, Julius. Art and Design for all: The Victoria and Albert Museum . London: V&A publishing, 2011. p134. ISBN 978 1 85177 666 5

Labels and date

Exhibited at the London Great Exhibition of 1851. []
British Galleries:
The 'Art Journal Illustrated Catalogue' described J.G. Green's exhibits as 'of the purest crystal, engraved in the most elaborate and artistic style; the forms are borrowed from the best antiques'. This jug takes the form of an ancient Greek pottery ewer. The engraving shows the Greek god of the sea, Neptune, with his bride Amphitrite, with Cupids (representing love), Tritons (half man, half fish) and Nereids (sea nymphs). [27/03/2003]


ELISE; British Galleries; Ceramics


Ceramics Collection

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