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Bacchanalian Dance Jug: C.44-2006

Object information

Current Location: In storage


Bacchanalian Dance Jug


Factory: Charles Meigh & Co




Off-white, relief moulded and smear glazed stoneware jug.

The body is of albarello (incurved, cylindrical) form, set on a flat foot. The wide neck has a broad lip and wavy rim. with a broad lip, and wavy rim; the handle is angular. The sides are decorated with two Bacchanalian scenes, each with a crowd of finely modelled revelling figures in mid-high relief. The foot is encircled by a wavy stem of ivy leaves and berries. The neck and shoulders are covered with a fruiting vine which stems from the handle. The interior is fully glazed. The underside is recessed and un-glazed.


History note: Professor Philip Grierson, Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, by whom bequeathed to Dr Mark Blackburn, Keeper of Coins and Medals, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Legal notes

Given by Dr Mark Blackburn in memory of Professor Phillip Grierson

Measurements and weight

Height: 21.5 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Hanley ⪼ Staffordshire ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (2006-11-21) by Blackburn, Mark, Dr


Mid 19th century
Victoria I
Circa 1844 CE - 1850 CE


Charles Meigh (d.1865) had become a partner in his father’s earthenware pottery business by 1812. He traded under his own name from 1835, and is known to have produced relief moulded jugs in a similar style to this from c.1839. He was known as a liberal patron of the arts and collector of painting and drawings, which included works by Poussin, Gainsborough and Van Dyck.

Relief moulded jugs were popular in mid 19th Century homes, where they were used for water, beer milk and other liquids which might now be kept in bottles, cans or plastic jars. The smear-glazing makes the most of the way that, sometimes colour-stained, clays show off crisply-moulded ornament, whilst the stoneware is sufficiently durable for everyday use. There are several examples in the Fitzwilliam Collection. This jug was a popular design and was produced in large numbers, sometimes with a hinged metal lid, and later adapted for a mug; there were also buff stoneware and Parian versions. It was later adapted for a mug which won a Society of Arts medal, and for a covered drinking cup exhibited at the 1851 Great Exhibition.

The Bacchanalian scenes are taken from works ny Poussin and Rubens. In Nicholas Poussin's 'Bacchanalian revel before a term', 1632-33 (National Gallery), arcadian revellers drink and dance before a pillar crowned with a torso and head, possibly Pan. It is thought that the modeller may have worked from an engraving by George Thomas Doo or by S.S. Smith of the Poussin image, since both were published in collections from the National Gallery c.1840. The other image is taken from Sir Peter Paul Rubens’ 'Drunken Silenus', a wise old drunkard who had the gift of prophesy. Minton also used this source for a jug. Rubens painted four versions, and Henrywood suggests that the source here was a print of the one that hung in the Gemaldegalerie, Berlin, until its destruction in 1945. There is another version, 1616-17, in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich. The imagery, together with the vines around the neck, suggest that the jug may have been intended for wine.

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Interior composed of glaze ( clear)
Foot Diameter 10.2 cm
Handle-lip Width 17 cm

Materials used in production

White stoneware

Techniques used in production

Relief-moulding : White relief-moulded stoneware, smear-glazed with glazed interior

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: Applied blue stoneware pad mark, comprising a coat-of arms supported by a front face lion and a unicorn, with below the date on a ribbon ‘SEPT.30 1844' and four curved ribbons impressed REGISTd./ No. 21960/CHARLES/MEIGH’ enclosing the diamond-shaped the Patent Registration Mark

  • Text: ‘SEPT.30 1844/ REGISTd./ No. 21960/CHARLES/MEIGH'
  • Location: On base
  • Method of creation: Moulded and applied
  • Type: Factory mark

Inscription present: lozenge-shaped

  • Text: IV C at top 'D' at left, '30' at right, and 1 at the bottom with Rd in the middle
  • Location: In centre of the pale blue applied mark on the base
  • Method of creation: Impressed
  • Type: Patent registration mark
  • Text: 18
  • Location: On the base
  • Method of creation: Impressed
  • Type: Number

Inscription present: (indistinct)

  • Text: 'D B' or 'D 3'
  • Location: Underside of base
  • Method of creation: Impressed
  • Type: Mark

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.44-2006
Primary reference Number: 136937
Entry form: 830
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 15 July 2020 Last processed: Monday 26 September 2022

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

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