- Museum number
Ewer made of high-fired lead-glazed earthenware with arched overhead handle and two side handles. A copy by Boulenger, Choisy-le-Roi, of a 16th-century Saint Porchaire vessel in the Louvre, Paris. The ewer is decorated with bands of very fine arabesque and strapwork ornament inlaid in black and probably done, like the 16th-century exanples, when the body was in the leather-hard state with metal dies. Beneath the spout is a figure of Christ on the cross. Around the base are four busts, working from the front (i.e. below the cross) these are: a skull, a young boy, a bearded gentleman, and a young woman. Below the bowl 12 leaf-shaped pieces hang down. On the handles is the repeated decoration of a coat-of-arms, with three fleur-de-lys within a shield, surmounted by a crown. The vessel has double hinged lids with knops in the form of oyster-shells. Factory mark on the underside.
- Production date
Height: 24 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- This ewer is closely based on a mid-16th century 'biberon' held by the Louvre (Inv. OA 1307, see object file for image), and one of a small group of so-called St-Porchaire' ceramics, the name of the village near Bordeaux where they were made. Many of the 16th century orignals have motifs connecting them to the French crown; there are only about fifty known surviving pieces. When they first began to be collected in the early 19th century, nobody knew where they were made and this, together with their finely-executed decoration, gave them an aura of mystery. They were hugely admired and this led a number of factories to make reproductions of them, most notably Edouard Avisseau in Tours, but also H. Boulenger, Emile Lenoble, Prosper Journeau (between 1882 and 1900 at Parthenay, Deux-Sèvres), and Georges Pull.
For a discussion of Saint Porchaire ceramics, see D. Barbour and S. Sturman (eds.), 'Saint Porchaire Ceramics' (Hanover and London, 1996), a compliation of papers from a colloquium held in Washignton in 1992.
For a 16th-century St Porchaire ewer of the same shape though much larger in the British Museum, see 1948,1203.53.
- Not on display
- Minor losses and cracks: loss to the lid and a piece of foliate decoration to the stem has broken off. This is inside the ewer.
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Purchased at Woolley & Wallis, Salisbury, 1 June 2007, lot 863
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number