Punch Bowl

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  • Great Britain, England, Liverpool
  • Ca. 1760
  • Earthenware, tin-glazed (delft)
  • 1956-373

Unusually large punch bowl with high cylindrical foot ring. White tin glaze decorated on the exterior in blue line and wash with three views of a land battle, the armies indentified above the scene by the inscriptions "Russians" and "Prussians." On the interior, decorated in blue with a detailed scene of a naval battle including several large warships; ensign on British ship in red and flag on a French ship in creamy white. Since the scenes on the bowl illustrate the Russians fighting the Prussians and the English fighting the French, and since bowls of this size and nature are known to have been produced only after 1750, the decoration clearly represents battles of the Seven Years' War. The source for the interior however was a painting that predates the war by many years. It is from a large folio volume after Thomas Baston, a "Collection of Prints and His Majesty's Royal Navy," which are not dated but are believed to have been done in 1721. The painting on the bowl closely follows (with some rearrangement in the foreground) the center portion of the largest plate in the book; plate IX, a folding plate. It is inscribed "E. Basten/I. Sarter's," and the subject described only as "A Sea Fight" in a long inscription beneath and including the royal arms: on a bannerette above is engraved "QUATUOR MARIA VINDICO" (These four seas I'll defend). This is one of a small group of delft punch bowls whose diameters exceed 20"; the majority of recorded examples are about 10" in diameter, and there is a group of larger ones between 16 and 16 inches. Another very large ship bowl, 20 1/2" in diameter is inscribed "Success to African Trade, George Dickinson." Dickinson is believed to have ordered the bowl from James Pennington's pottery in Liverpool before leaving on his fatal voyage in November 1767. John Robinson is thought to have painted it. Other bowls of this size include one at the Royal Ontario Museum that measures about 20", inscribed "Free and Est Society," and one decorated in the style of Deerfield recorded as being 27 5/8" in diameter.

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