It’s been a while since we looked at any transfer-printed pottery on the Printshop Window and so I thought I’d share these images of a creamware jug which came up at auction recently.DSC_0046

The jug was manufactured by the Cambrian Pottery Company of Swansea and is dated 1st April 1814. The design is somewhat unusual in that it is an original composition rather than a copy of an existing caricature print. It was drawn and engraved by James Brindley, an English engraver working in Swansea for a period of about five years between 1813 and 1818. Brindley produced this image and another satirical design, entitled Peace and Plenty, specifically for use in the potteries. We know Brindley was responsible for creating these two designs because his signature appears on both, although David Drakard points out that it was obliterated from later transfers, possibly because “confirmation that both the design and the engraving was not their own work was too much for the Cambrian Pottery” (Drakard, p.248).

The image is a complex one in which several figures gather around to comment on the central figure of Napoleon Bonaparte as he is being dragged down to hell. Alexander Meyrick Broadley, the great Victorian historian of British caricature in this period, had one of these jugs in his collection and describes the design in detail in the second volume of his book:DSC_0047

Bonaparte. “Oh, cursed ambition, what hast thou
brought me to now ? ”

The Evil One (from amidst the flames). “Why, to
me. Come, come! Thou hast been a most dutiful
child.”

An itinerant fiddler. “Oh, destitute Boney, where art
thou now?”

A street ballad-seller. “Down with Boney! Wolloping
Boney ! Where are you now?”

A street urchin. “Where is he going?”

A second street urchin. “To Elba.”DSC_0049

A dandy of the Regency (bowing low). ” Your most
obedient servant.”

A British citizen (seated at table, and replenishing his
glass, ” Peace,” from the decanter of ” Plenty “). ” Be-
gone dull care.”

John Bull (addressing one of the returned prisoners
from France). “Where (sic) you one of those confin’d
under the gripes of Old Boney?”

The Prisoner. “Yes. About two years ago I weighed
20 stone. You see what I am reduc’d to!” (Broadly, p. 260).

Around the spout of the jug is the title Bonaparte Dethron’d and the date 1st April 1814. Napoleon was actually dethroned by the French Senate on 3rd April 1814, but it seems reasonable to assume that Brindley deliberately fudged the facts in order to link l’empereur’s downfall with April Fools Day. Drakard records that this decoration was issued with and without colour and also printed in red on yellow-glaze (see example here). It was also sufficiently popular for at least one of the Cambrian Pottery’s rivals to issue a copy. The design on the copies is slightly more compact, with the title being moved onto the body of the jug and replaced by a floral banding that runs around the spout. The British Museum currently has one of these copies in its collection which it erroneously attributes to the caricaturist William Elmes.

Advertisements