Exceedingly Rare and Important Morgantown, WV Stoneware Eagle Jar w/ Cobalt and Manganese Eagle

October 25, 2014 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 274

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October 25, 2014 Auction Catalog

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Exceedingly Rare and Important Five-Gallon Stoneware Jar with Cobalt and Manganese Slip Eagle Decoration, attributed to the Thompson Pottery, Morgantown, WV, circa 1860, cylindrical jar with tooled shoulder, ribbed lug handles, and semi-squared rim, lavishly-decorated in cobalt and manganese slip with a large spread-winged eagle perched atop a flowering plant. Decoration is artistically-created by massing in the body, wings, and tail of the bird with heavy cobalt strokes, and then overlaying feather detail, outlining the body, and forming the legs with manganese. The delicate flowering plant design below the eagle features cobalt leaves and flower centers with a manganese stem and borders, culminating in a grape or berry cluster. The rim is impressed with a distinctive oval five-gallon capacity mark employed at the Thompson family's stoneware manufactory in Morgantown, West Virginia. Recently found in a Pennsylvania home, this jar is one of the finest examples of West Virginia stoneware to cross the auction block in years. The detail and artistry of this example is arguably unmatched in any other known piece of Thompson family stoneware. Later human, bird, and animal designs are applied with somewhat similar massed cobalt brushwork, forming a silhouette of the figure, and one can see how this fine eagle relates to the later, more simplistic Morgantown bird motifs. However, the addition of manganese is most unusual, allowing the decorator to create detail to the bird's body and intense visual appeal. This jar also features hand-formed, ribbed handles, suggesting an earlier date of manufacture, likely before the well-known extruded handles from this pottery were employed. In addition, the form appears shorter and wider than most Morgantown jars known, suggesting the potter was leaving ample room for the large eagle design, or indicating the jar is of an earlier manufacture date than most surviving examples, which tend to mimic the Greensboro, PA style more closely. In our opinion, this vessel can be viewed as a significant link in the evolution of Morgantown figural decoration, a transitional piece made between the floral-decorated ovoids of the pottery's early stoneware period and the cylindrical people, bird, and animal jars of later years. Provenance: A fresh-to-the-market example, recently found in a Central Pennsylvania home. Excellent condition with a short, faint line on top of rim (probably in-the-firing), two very minor chips on interior of rim, a small base chip, and some mottling to clay on sides and reverse. H 13 1/4".


Exceedingly Rare and Important Morgantown, WV Stoneware Eagle Jar w/ Cobalt and Manganese EagleExceedingly Rare and Important Morgantown, WV Stoneware Eagle Jar w/ Cobalt and Manganese Eagle

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