Highly Important Stoneware Pitcher w/ Incised Federal Eagle Decoration, New York City, September 15, 1806

Fall 2022 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 1

Estimate: $80,000-$120,000.A Note About Estimates

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Fall 2022 Auction Catalog

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Sold!  $220,000.


Highly Important Stoneware Presentation Pitcher with Incised Federal Eagle Decoration, Impressed "JOHN, L, WESSELL," Incised "New York / September 15th 1806," attributed to the Crolius Family, Manhattan, NY, 1806, ovoid pitcher with footed base, tooled rim, and ribbed handle, decorated with an incised and cobalt-highlighted design of a spread-winged federal eagle with patriotic shield, clutching an olive branch and arrows in its talons. Impressed above with the cobalt-highlighted name, "JOHN, L, WESSELL." Sides of pitcher decorated with incised and cobalt-highlighted floral motifs in the Manhattan style, depicting a stylized bud emanating with splayed leaves. Reverse incised with the cobalt-highlighted script inscription, "New York / September 15th 1806." Brushed cobalt highlights to handle terminals. Made for local cabinetmaker, John Wessells (here "Wessell"), this work features one of the earliest renderings of an eagle in the entire American stoneware medium as well as one of a few eagle motifs known from the city of New York. Crafted just thirty years after America's independence, its eagle relates to the original design from the Great Seal of the United States in 1782, depicting the bird with prominent crest, straighter beak, and upward-pointing legs. The pitcher's stylized floral motifs flanking the eagle lead to a firm attribution to a member of the illustrious Crolius family of potters, largely responsible for the proliferation of the stoneware industry / art form throughout the country during the turn of the 19th century. Its combination of impressed and incised lettering is highly unusual; of particular note are the hand-incised words on the reverse, "New York," making this vessel one of a small number of objects bearing a script inscription linking it to New York City. Among these are the iconic "Flowered by Clarkson Crolius" spouted vessel and heavily-incised "Bill Howard" jug in the collection of the New-York Historical Society, as well as a diminutive eagle-decorated jar, sold in Crocker Farm's July 20, 2013 auction, which set a then-record price for Manhattan stoneware. A striking combination of numerous excellent qualities--decoration, origin, form, color, condition, and inscriptions specifying both its owner and place / date of manufacture--produce an object of extraordinary significance, beauty, and rarity. Its manufacture in Manhattan, the effective birthplace of cobalt-decorated stoneware in America, its use of deftly incised decoration, and its depiction of a classic American image--the federal eagle--make this work the definitive example of the early American stoneware craft. Excellent condition with a 1 1/2" hairline from rim on reverse, a small base chip, a few other very minor base chips, and a smooth in-the-firing contact mark to right of eagle. H 11 1/8".



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