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Worcester Porcelain Company [1751-1862] (British, estab. Circa 1751, closed 1862), Manufacturer
Maskhead Jug
Circa 1770
poychrome blue scale soft paste porcelain
380 x 200 x 160 mm
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Given 1961 by Lady Hilda Owen
The 18th-century mask-lipped, cabbage leaf moulded jug is a design particularly associated with Worcester porcelain. Mask jugs were produced over a long period, beginning in the 1760s and lasting into the 1820s. The base carries the ubiquitous underglaze blue Chinese style square seal mark, dating the jug to around 1770. The inspiration for the mask is almost certainly Continental, probably German. On the other hand, the painted decoration of exotic birds on a scale blue ground and the associated gilded scroll work is French, in accordance with the swing in fashion away from Meissen to Sèvres, which occurred from the 1770s.
On a price card of the time such pieces were referred to as ‘Dutch Jugs’ and priced at 3s 6d per dozen or 8s per dozen, a distinction that may well have differentiated between underglaze blue and onglaze polychrome examples, respectively.
The vast proportion of these mask jugs were underglaze blue and relatively uncomplicated in their production, needing only two firings in the kiln. This more sumptuous production required several firings to fix the underglaze blue scale, the onglaze coloured enamels and the gilded decoration. The following extract from a 1769 sale notice could well be describing this jug: ‘richly decorated with chased and burnished gold….The whole enameled in the highest Taste, and curiously painted in Figures, Birds, Landscapes, Flowers, Fruits, etc.’

not on view

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