Celtic mythology, £8.99
Diameter: 9.000 inches
Room 46: Europe 1400-1800
From North Devon, England, dated AD 1669
Harvest jugs are so called because they are associated with the large jugs and pitchers used for carrying beer to the farm workers at harvest time. This example is made of lead-glazed earthenware with incised decoration of stylized floral motifs.
The technique of incised slipware decoration is sometimes known as sgraffito (Italian: 'scratched') decoration. The dried, reddish-coloured body is coated, by dipping or by brushing, with a paler coloured slip (clay diluted with water to a creamy texture). The decoration is formed by scratching away part of the dried slip with a point or gouge to reveal the darker body underneath. As earthenware remains porous after firing, it is then covered with a transparent lead glaze or a glaze stained with metal oxides.
The technique was known in northern Italy by 1300; by 1600 Italian influence and immigrant potters had brought it to France, Germany and Holland, from where it was exported to England. A number of potteries were established by the mid-seventeenth century in south-western ports, such as Barnstaple and Bideford in north Devon and Donyatt in Somerset; these had strong trading links with France and with the Irish Sea and Atlantic Ocean trade.
D. Gaimster, 'Regional decorative traditions in English post-medieval slipware' in Pottery in the making: world-6 (London, The British Museum Press, 1997), pp. 128-33