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Tall two-handled vase: C.31-2023

Object information

Current Location: In storage


Tall two-handled vase


Pottery: Della Robbia Pottery
Sgraffito artist: Pierce, Aphra Jane
Sgraffito artist: Woodhouse, Violet (Perhaps)




Thrown terracotta, slip coated and decorated with sgraffito, underglaze colours and clear lead glaze.

Red earthenware vase of elongated bulbous shape tapering to narrow neck, joined by a rounded bulge; two opposed strap handles from lower neck to shoulder. Decorated with cream slip and a sgraffito design. On each side, a barefoot maid in cream and ochre-yellow dancing amongst cream birds, framed by green stylised leaves, on a watery sky-blue ground. Between these, stylised leaves and flowers in green and cream on a manganese brown ground. Handles pale turquoise green. Bands of decoration in blue, turquoise green and ochre around the base and neck. Underside slip-coated and glazed within a slightly raised foot-rim.


History note: Lent by Rita Smythe, 2018

Legal notes

Bequeathed by Ian and Rita Smythe, 2023

Measurements and weight

Height: 35.5 cm
Width: 16 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Birkenhead ⪼ Cheshire ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (2023) by Smythe, Ian and Rita


Circa 1894 CE - 1899 CE


Aphra Jane Pierce b.1870, at Della Robbia c.1894-1899 as a sgraffito artist specialised in designs featuring young women, children, angels or cherubs garlanded by flowers and leaves, often using a cream/yellow palette. In 1897 The Magazine of Art described her as ‘a designer of striking originality’. She later worked for Doulton. The second mark, ‘V’ , perhaps indicates that the sides of the vase were decoraterd by Violet Woodhouse, at the pottery c.1895-1900 and known for her simple linear leaf and stem shapes.

The Della Robbia Pottery, founded by Harold Rathbone and Conrad Dressler. From 1894 until closure in 1906 it produced a range of decorative ceramics in Art Nouveau style and influenced by 15th and 16th century Italian ceramics. Following the principles of the Arts and Crafts movement, pieces were hand thrown and decorated and individual decorators encouraged to mark their work. Typically, designs were set out in sgraffito over white slip and coloured with special fluid colours, formed from pigments mixed with water and gum arabic, which blended with the glaze to give exceptionally bright hues.

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Throwing : Thrown, slip coated, sgraffito and coloured glazes.

Inscription or legends present

  • Text: D simple ship outline R
  • Location: Underside of base
  • Method of creation: Incised
  • Type: Factory mark

Inscription present: monogram

  • Text: AJP
  • Location: Underside of base
  • Method of creation: Incised
  • Type: Decorator's mark
  • Text: V
  • Location: Underside of base
  • Method of creation: Incised and painted black
  • Type: Decorator's mark
  • Text: C. Jones/ 49/3
  • Location: Underside of base
  • Method of creation: Two rectangular paper labels handwritten in black ink
  • Type: Label
  • Text: Case 11
  • Method of creation: Rectangular paper labels handwritten in black ink
  • Type: Label

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.31-2023
Primary reference Number: 239667
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Tuesday 26 November 2019 Updated: Wednesday 30 August 2023 Last processed: Wednesday 13 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

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

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Tall two-handled vase" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-03-02 03:30:01

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{{cite web|url= |title=Tall two-handled vase |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-03-02 03:30:01|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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