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An early American themed bowl


To make a punch for toasting the health and success of the new United States there could be no more appropriate vessel than this large punchbowl with the central printed portrait titled  GEORGE WASHINGTON Esqr. President. 
The white earthenware is transfer-printed in strong cobalt blue under a bluish “pearlware” glaze.  The exterior is decorated with four groups of Chinese-style flowers similar to those found on a popular pattern known as FitzHugh. The interior has a deep border with scrolling panels of fretwork design with diamond shapes and pendants. In the well of the bowl is the large portrait of George Washington commemorating his presidency.

The interior border is recorded on a number of shapes including bowls, plates, and jugs. At least two other similar bowls are known with commemorative designs at the center of the interior. One is in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London [1] and has a design of a medallion enclosing busts of King George III and Queen Charlotte, with the inscriptions 'A KING REVERED A QUEEN BELOVED. LONG MAY THEY LIVE” a bowl with a similar central print sold at Woolley and Wallis in September 2011.  Another bowl with the same border depicts “His Royal Highness FREDERICK DUKE of YORK, on horseback overseeing troops.  Both of these central designs are known to appear on mugs, printed in brown, sometimes highlighted with underglaze color.[2]

The portrait of George Washington is based on a stipple engraving by Edward Savage.  In late 1789 to early 1790 Washington sat on a number of occasions for a portrait to be painted in oil on canvas by Edward Savage for Harvard University.  He is depicted in uniform with the badge of the Society of the Cincinnati on his lapel. In 1791 Savage went to London where he is said to have studied under Benjamin West and while in London, he stipple engraved and published a print after his own painting of Washington.The print is inscribed Painted & Engraved by E Savage. George Washington Esqr. President of the United States of America. From the Original Picture Painted in 1790 for the PhilsosophicalChamber at the University of Cambridge in Massachusetts. Published Feby. 7, 1792 by E Savage, No.29 Charles Street, Middx.Hospital.    Having been printed in London, this engraving would have been an easy purchase for a potter wishing to pursue the increasing and lucrative trade with America.

While it is not possible to say with any certainty who made this piece, it is possible that it was made by John Harrison who made the plate also discussed on this site, as plates impressed IH and decorated with a similar printed border have been recorded[3], but such an attribution is at best tentative.

[2] Holdaway, Minnie. 2001. Hollins blue & white printed earthenware. [London]: Morley College Ceramic Circle. Pl. 2.15
[3]  Holdaway, Minnie. 2001. Hollins blue & white printed earthenware. [London]: Morley College Ceramic Circle, p.3

exterior bowl

borderExterior view and detail of interior border pattern of the bowl with the  portrait of
George Washington 

Winterthur collection