- Museum number
Container; low-fired earthenware, with classical-style ornament and scenes after Thorwaldsen, the ornament mostly reserved in the red unglazed body colour, the background painted black; constructed in three parts, a turned base with foot, a turned lid with central knop and vertical handles, beneath the lid a removable central tray with knop in the centre; the base depicts `Briseis being taken from Achilles' flanked by palmettes and a band of Greek key pattern; the lids are decorated with linear pattern and rosettes; the trays are decorated with a scrolling-leaf and flower pattern.
- Production date
- 1874-1903 (designed;made)
Diameter: 17 centimetres
Height: 12.70 centimetres (base)
Height: 4.10 centimetres (central tray)
Height: 24 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Pair with 1986,0302.2
Text from J. Rudoe, 'Decorative Arts 1850-1950. A catalogue of the British Museum collection'. 2nd ed. no.128a.
The terracotta factory of P. Ipsens Enke (P. Ipsen's widow) became widely known for its Greek-style vases and other historicist ceramics exhibited throughout Europe during the 1870s. The Art Journal Illustrated Catalogue of the Paris Exhibition of 1878, 28, devoted a whole page to Ipsen's terracottas, which were to be seen at the factory's London agent, Messrs Arup Brothers of New Bond Street.
These containers appear in the factory's earliest recorded catalogue of 1875 (copy in Bornholms Museum, Ronne, Denmark); the shape only is illustrated, as model nos 30, 31, 47, 55, referring to the different sizes in which it was made (according to the 1890 catalogue the heights were as follows: no. 31, 43cm; no. 47, 16cm; no. 55, 8cm). The shape is described as a 'Lepaste' (a term derived from the Greek word for limpet, no longer used in Greek vase studies) and was available in cream, red or black, with or without decoration. It also appears in the firm's catalogues of 1879 (copy in Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Factory library), 1890 and 1903 (copies in the Kunstindustrimuseum, Copenhagen). Both the 1879 and 1890 catalogues show model 30, with a light ground, decorated with 'nemesis on a chariot' after Thorwaldsen. Without decoration it cost 5 kroner (cream or red) or 7kr (black), with decoration 35kr (cream), 26kr (red) or 3okr (black). None of these catalogues (xeroxes kindly supplied by Gerd Bloxham, Kunstindustrimuseum, Copenhagen) discusses the intended use for these containers; it has been suggested that they were used for tobacco. The unglazed earthenware body is highly porous and so it is unlikely that they contained liquid. A container of identical shape is illustrated in the Notice Historique et Descriptive sur les Galeries Royales d'Art Danois, owned by A. Borgen & Company at 142 New Bond Street; this leaflet, published in 1874, lists tobacco jars among the articles available. For Borgen & Co., see J. Rudoe in Gere et al. 'The Art of the Jeweller: A Catalogue of the Hull grundy Gift to the British Museum', 2 vols, London 1984, no. 994.
Sometimes both shape and decoration were taken straight from an ancient vase; in other cases the shapes alone were derived from antiquity. The egg-shaped form of these containers is loosely based on the Greek hydria, but the lid is entirely nineteenth-century in conception: handles of similar form occur on the Greek hydria and crater but not placed vertically. The decoration is a mixture of classical and neo-classical elements. The technique imitates the Greek red-figure technique of the fifth-fourth centuries BC in which the figures are reserved in the colour of the red clay ground with painted linear detail, the background filled in with black. The central scenes, on the other hand, are copied directly from well-known marble reliefs by the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorwaldsen (1770-1844), housed in the Thorwaldsen Museum in Copenhagen since the nineteenth century: Briseis being taken from Achilles of 1803 (Thorwaldsen's Museum Guide, 1961, 43, no. 489; Hartmann, J.B., 'Antike Motive bei Thorwaldsen', Tübingen 1979, pl. 85.2) and Hector's farewell to Andromache of 1837 (Thorwaldsen's Museum Guide, 1961, 44, no. 501A, ill.).
The subjects of Ipsen's vases were also copied after Flaxman and after the contemporary Danish artist and history painter Anker Lund, who began to make sketches for terracotta wares in 1871. For an elaborate volute crater in the Kunstindustrimuseet, Copenhagen, painted by T. Alvesen after Lund's designs c.1875, see Gelfer-Jergensen, M., 'Dansk Kunsthandwerk fra 1850 til for til', Copenhagen 1982, 56. For further examples, see Hamburg 1977, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, 'Hohe Kunst zwischen Biedermeier und Judendstil: Historismus in Hamburg und Norddeutschland', H. Jedding et al, no. 385, a hydria or water jug, c. 1875 (not illustrated, but from the description this is likely to be after Thorwaldsen); Mundt, B., 'Historismus: Kunstgewerbe zwischen Biedermeier und Judendstil', Berlin 1981, pl. 24, two plates, c. 1875. For further discussion of the Ipsen factory's production, see Gelfer-Jorgensen 1982 and Holst, B., 'P. Ipsens Enke. En udstilling om en keramikfabrik', Bronshoj 1984.
Closely similar wares were produced by V. Wendrich of Copenhagen ; see Hamburg 1977, no. 386, a hydria with the identical scene to that on one of the British Museum containers, 'Hector's farewell to Andromache' after Thorwaldsen. Little is known about Wendrich, but another major producer of Greek-style wares, usually imitating the black-figure technique, was the Terracottafabrik L. Hjorth at Ronne, Bornholm, Denmark, founded in 1859; see Hamburg 1977, no. 383; Gelfer-Jorgensen 1982, p.57.
Information supplementary to Rudoe 1994:
The Ipsen factory was also at Bornholm. For a contemporary account of a visit to Bornholm, see A.V. Bleininger (ed), 'The Collected Writings of Hermann August Seger', Easton PA, 1902, pp. 955-957,
- On display (G47/dc11)
- Small chips to rim and under rim of cover.
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number