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Wine bottle: C.5-1931

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 27 (Glaisher)


Pottery: Pickleherring Pottery (Probably)
Proprietor of pottery: Wilhelm, Christian




Tin-glazed earthenware bottle painted in blue with 'birds-on-rocks' pattern in late Ming style, and dated 1628 below the lower terminal of the handle

Buff earthenware, thrown, tin-glazed, and painted in blue. The bulbous body stands on a low foot which is concave in the centre underneath. It has a narow cylindrical neck with a rounded rim, and a loop handle which is concave on the inside and convex on the outside. The sides are decorated wth birds standing on rocks with flowers, a flying insect and a butterfly. Below there is a row of slanting Ss between horizontal bands and above on the shoulder, slanting stripes and dots between horizontal bands, and on the neck slanting Ss between horizontal bands. On either side of the handle there is a broad blue vertical stripe, and below it the date '1628'. The exterior of the handle is blue.


History note: Bryan T. Harland, Croydon; Mrs Bryan T. Harland; sold Sotheby's, 11 February, 1931, Catalogue of the Harland Collection, first day, p. 16, lot 81

Legal notes

Purchased with the Glaisher Fund

Measurements and weight

Height: 19.4 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Southwark ⪼ Surrey ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bought (1931) by Sotheby's


17th Century, second quarter#
Charles I
Production date: dated AD 1628 : dated


In the early seventeenth century the importation of Chinese late-Ming blue and white porcelain by the Dutch and English East India Companies, was creating a demand which European potters attempted to satisfy by imitating the decoration on the white surface of tin-glazed earthenware. This bottle decorated with a late Ming design known to collectors as 'birds on rocks' is one of the earliest examples of the influence of Cjhnese blue and white porcelain on English ceramics. Numerous fragments decorated with this pattern have been found on the south bank of the Thames in the area of the Montague Close, Pickleherriing and Rotherhithe potteries. However, the date, 1628. on this bottle is significant, because in that year a royal patent for the manufacture of galliware, the contemporary term for tin-glazed earthenware, was granted to Christian Wilhelm, the proprietor of a pottery at Pickleherring in Southwark. It therefore seems likely that the bottle was made at his pottery, which was probably in Vine Yard, a short distance south of Pickleherring Street. It was operating by 1618 and continued until 1723. The 'birds on rocks' pattern can be associated with Wilhelm because it occurs on kiln wasters found nearby at Potter's Fields, Southwark. After Wilhelm's death in 1630, his son-in-law Thomas Townsend inherited the pottery and appears to have continued making wares decorated with this pattern until the early 1640s. Six more bottles similar to this are known bearing he same date.

School or Style

Late Ming style

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of high-temperature colour ( blue from cobalt)

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production


Inscription or legends present

  • Text: 1628
  • Location: Below the lower terminal of handle
  • Method of creation: Painted in blue
  • Type: Inscription

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.5-1931
Primary reference Number: 75382
Glai9sher Addition number: Gl. Add. 22-1931
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Friday 15 December 2023 Last processed: Friday 16 February 2024

Associated departments & institutions

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

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Wine bottle" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-07-13 18:10:26

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