Extremely Rare Bray Family, Evansville, Indiana Temperance Jug

November 3, 2018 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 81

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November 3, 2018 Auction Catalog

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Extremely Rare Cobalt-Decorated Stoneware Temperance Jug with Applied Figural Decoration, attributed to Simeon L. Bray, Evansville, IN, circa 1885, ovoid jug with tall neck and rounded spout, the handle in the form of a large snake devouring a hand-modeled figure of a man with pained expression, whose torso and arms extend from the front of the vessel. Surface of jug decorated with several animals facing the central tortured figure, including a frog to the left, a lizard to the right, and three snakes below. Two larger snakes appear above, one which curls around the neck of the snake handle and rests its head on the figure's shoulder, the other which lays atop the the midsection of the snake handle and appears behind the figure. Incised details to animal's faces and body of figure. Surface of jug heavily-incised with a rustic, bark-like texture. Animals heavily-decorated with brushed cobalt slip and overlying Albany slip spots. Body of jug profusely-decorated with reddish-brown slip brushwork, presumably iron-oxide. Applied figure decorated with reddish-brown slip highlights to hair and lighter-brown, Albany slip highlights to his torso. Brothers, Simeon, J. Wallace, and William Bray, spent their early years in the town of Anna, Illinois, where they likely learned the pottery trade from the famed Kirkpatrick brothers. This work is one of a small number of Anna-inspired temperance jugs known by this family. It is noteworthy in its use of cobalt slip decoration, being one of a very few known with this treatment, as well as its size, measuring among the largest Bray temperance jugs known. The elaborate modeling of the figure's torso and head are also remarkable, as the majority of documented Bray family jugs feature only a simple man's head emerging from the jug's wall, or, in some cases, no representation of a human form at all. The inclusion of several crawling animals and an expressive face on the tormented man make this piece a particularly lively and expressive Bray work. Additionally, the jug's detailed torso and use of cobalt decoration make this example a truer copy of the Anna style than most Bray family pieces known. Provenance: A previously-undocumented, recently-surfaced example. Very old, possibly late 19th or early 20th century, plaster restoration to a section of the neck of the snake handle, which emerges from the jug's neck, as well as the head of the lizard. Head of human figure reglued to his body. Loss to figure's nose. H 7 3/4".


Extremely Rare Bray Family, Evansville, Indiana Temperance JugExtremely Rare Bray Family, Evansville, Indiana Temperance JugExtremely Rare Bray Family, Evansville, Indiana Temperance JugExtremely Rare Bray Family, Evansville, Indiana Temperance JugExtremely Rare Bray Family, Evansville, Indiana Temperance JugExtremely Rare Bray Family, Evansville, Indiana Temperance JugExtremely Rare Bray Family, Evansville, Indiana Temperance JugExtremely Rare Bray Family, Evansville, Indiana Temperance Jug

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Bidding is now closed.
(Our next auction takes place March 2019.)

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