Outstanding Stoneware Temperance Jug with Applied Snakes, Animals, and Human Faces

October 22, 2016 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 129

Price Realized: $16,100.00

($14,000 hammer, plus 15% buyer's premium)

PLEASE NOTE:  This result is 6 years old, and the American ceramics market frequently changes. Additionally, small nuances of color, condition, shape, etc. can mean huge differences in price. If you're interested in having us sell a similar item for you, please contact us here.

Auction Highlight:  October 22, 2016 Auction | Anna Pottery | Southern Pottery

October 22, 2016 Auction Catalog

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Outstanding Stoneware Temperance Jug with Applied Figural Decoration, attributed to Jacob Bachley, Texarkana Pottery, Texarkana, AR, circa 1885, ovoid jug with semi-rounded spout, the surface embellished with heavily-combed bark, the handle in the form of a large snake. The front of the jug is decorated with hand-modeled and applied animals, including a large lizard, turtle, centipede, beetle, and wasp. An applied fly near the base is molded. The applied animal figures are surrounded by two entwined snakes, which raise off the body of the jug near the base and meet atop the head of the snake handle. The sides of the jug are decorated with molded and applied African-American and Caucasian human faces, both with incised details to hair, surrounding by two additional snakes, which meet atop the upper terminal of the snake-form handle. The surface of the jug is covered in a chocolate-brown Albany slip with overlying salt glaze, streaked in areas. The brown slip is omitted on the snakes and other animals, leaving their bodies with light-colored, salt-glazed surfaces accented with brown slip throughout, including banding along the snakes' bodies. This jug is closely-related in form and subject matter to examples produced by Wallace and Cornwall Kirkpatrick of Anna, IL. While the use of snakes and animals to ornament the jug are clear links to the Anna style, the use of an African-American head has also been observed on at least one signed Kirkpatrick temperance jug produced during the 1860s. Of additional note is the applied beetle near the shoulder, which appears to be modeled after a larger insect sculpture made by the Kirkpatricks, known as the "Cairo Humbug". The strong likeness of the snakes to those created by the Kirkpatrick brothers suggests the maker of this jug was highly familiar with their work, possibly a previous employee. The refined modeling of their heads and bodies can be linked to the hand of the "Texarkana Pottery Man", Jacob Bachley. Snakes of the style seen on this jug can be observed on two temperance flasks made by Bachley, which were sold through Crocker Farm, Inc. in 2005 and 2012. The jug displays an intentional symmetry in the placement of the snakes, uncommon to American stoneware temperance jugs, as two entwined snakes form a border around the central animal motifs, their heads crossing atop the head of the snake handle, while two other snakes form a border around the applied human faces, their heads crossing over the upper body of the snake. Additionally, the application of both African-American and Caucasian faces is highly unusual, their juxtaposition on opposing sides of the jug possibly indicative of some sort of social statement. This jug is a significant addition to a slowly-growing body of temperance stoneware pieces produced throughout the Central and Southcentral U.S. during the 1870 to 1890 time period. The craftsmanship of this example further validates Bachley as a master ceramic folk artist. The object's strong decorative appeal is met with exemplary condition, so difficult to find on American stoneware temperance jugs, as their fragile applied decoration was often lost during the firing or easily-damaged afterward. Provenance: A fresh-to-the-market example, recently discovered in the Midwestern U.S. Excellent condition with a 7/8" spout chip, a minor loss to tip of lizard's tail, and a small chip to nose on African-American face. H 11".

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