Exceedingly Rare and Important Thomas W. Commeraw 18th Century Stoneware Jar, COERLEARS HOOK / N. YORK

Fall 2023 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 5

Price Realized: $72,000.00

($60,000 hammer, plus 20% buyer's premium)

PLEASE NOTE:  The American ceramics market frequently changes, often dramatically. 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:  Greatest Hits | Fall 2023 Auction | New York City Stoneware | Incised Stoneware | African-American Pottery

Fall 2023 Auction Catalog

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Exceedingly Rare and Important Three-Gallon Stoneware Jar with Incised Floral Decorations, Stamped "COERLEARS HOOK / N. YORK," Thomas W. Commeraw, Corlears Hook, Manhattan, NY, circa 1797, ovoid jar with footed base, tooled shoulder, flared rim, and open loop handles, the front rim featuring the impressed and cobalt-highlighted mark, "COERLEARS HOOK," above an incised and cobalt-highlighted floral motif depicting upward and downward facing bellflowers, conjoined at their bases, with pairs of leaves in between. Reverse impressed at the rim with the cobalt-highlighted mark, "N. YORK," above a stylized floral motif featuring a fanned blossom and scalloped leaves emanating from a curving stem drawn with a three-pronged stylus. Brushed cobalt highlights to handle terminals. The freehand-incised decorations and impressed mark on this jar date it to Commeraw's earliest years as an independent potter active in the Manhattan neighborhood of Corlears Hook, striking out on his own to become one of the nation's most prominent African-American craftsman of the period. Very few examples of his work featuring incised floral decoration executed by hand are known. Within a few years of this jar's manufacture, Commeraw began using his well-known impressed drape-and-tassel motifs, which allowed him and his employees to more efficiently decorate their products. As such, this jar, and the small body of work it belongs to, are regarded as not only his earliest works, but those that we can strongly attribute to Commeraw himself as both a potter and decorator. Of particular note is the fine condition of this example; most of Commeraw's earliest pieces survive with moderate to significant damage. Another fine point of this jar is its extraordinary decoration, featuring two motifs that differ markedly on the front and reverse. While the reverse features a design typical of jars from this period, the front depicts a previously unknown floral motif with crescent-shaped leaves and tripartite flowers appearing as a precursor to Commeraw's well-known impressed drape-and-tassel design. The decorative quality, age, and condition of this work rank it among Commeraw's finest surviving vessels. Provenance: A fresh-to-the-market example, which recently surfaced in the Midwestern U.S. Small chips around rim. A thin 4 3/8" crack to far right side of jar's front. A 1 3/8" flake to underside of one handle and a small chip to top of same handle. A tight 3 1/4" spider line to side of jar, extending partway onto front. Minor chips to bottom edge. Surface flakes to underside. H 12 1/4".

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