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Decorative Arts and Design

Christopher Dresser (1835–1906)
Christopher Dresser, one of the foremost independent industrial designers of the nineteenth century, produced an amazing array of forward-looking designs in ceramic, metal, textile, wallpapers, carpets, and furniture as a freelancer for leading firms such as Wedgwood and Minton. He was trained as a botanist and searched for the underlying geometry in nature, as seen in the floral decoration of the soup plate here. He also hoped to realize the promise of the Industrial Revolution to make well-designed products available to as large an audience as possible, often using inexpensive materials: the radically simplified design of the jug here is realized in silver plate rather than silver, and the soup plate is earthenware rather than porcelain. Although we look back at Dresser’s designs—particularly the iconic forms of the jug and toast rack—as prescient examples of protomodernism, the prevailing taste of his time and for decades after was for historically inspired, traditional designs such as the elaborate pitcher here (given by the postal workers of East Liverpool, Ohio, to President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905).

MEDIUM Glass, silver, teak
  • Place Manufactured: Birmingham, England
  • DATES Designed 1881
    DIMENSIONS 8 1/2 x 5 3/4 x 5 7/8 in. (21.6 x 14.6 x 14.9 cm)  (show scale)
    MARKINGS Underside of hinged lid: lion passant, "H"/ maker's mark ("JWN/JTH" impressed in a clover shape). Narrow silver band at shoulders: maker's mark ("JWN/JTH" impressed in a clover shape), lion passant, leopard's head, "H", woman's head in profile. Wide silver band at rim: maker's mark ("JWN/JTH" impressed in a clover shape) [assay mark ?], registration mark.
    ACCESSION NUMBER 2007.10.3
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Paul F. Walter
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Colorless glass baluster shaped jug with long cylindrical neck raised on flat circular starburst cut foot. Two horizontal silver bars extend to vertical teak handle from wide and narrow circular bands at top and bottom of neck (respectively). Opposed triangular spout extends from wide band at neck. Flat circular hinged lid. Condition: Good.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Christopher Dresser (English, 1834–1904). Jug, Designed 1881. Glass, silver, teak, 8 1/2 x 5 3/4 x 5 7/8 in. (21.6 x 14.6 x 14.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Paul F. Walter, 2007.10.3. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2007.10.3_side1_PS6.jpg)
    IMAGE side, 2007.10.3_side1_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2011
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    Christopher Dresser (English, 1834–1904). <em>Jug</em>, Designed 1881. Glass, silver, teak, 8 1/2 x 5 3/4 x 5 7/8 in. (21.6 x 14.6 x 14.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Paul F. Walter, 2007.10.3. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2007.10.3_side1_PS6.jpg)