Pitcher, "Apotheosis"

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This transfer printed creamware pitcher is decorated with a print of a ship under sail on one side and of the Apotheosis of George Washington on the other. Finally, under the spout is a floral oval with barrels at its base and the initials “PL” in the center. Maritime designs are especially common on English-made transfer printed creamware meant for the American market. Stock prints of ships, like the one on this example, were repeatedly used by English ceramics printers. The ship on this pitcher is titled “The Mary.” It is possible the pitcher belonged to a man named John Lilley, who operated in Liverpool and had a wife named Mary. George Washington is the most common figure depicted on English creamware pitchers of this period. His death in 1799 led to an outpouring of commemorative products celebrating his life and mourning his death. The Apotheosis of Washington is a print done by John James Barralet. The print depicts Washington being raised from his tomb by two winged figures representing Immortality and Father Time. At the left are allegorical figures of Faith, Hope, and Charity above a spread winged bald eagle perched on the US shield with a banner reading “E Pluribus Unum” in its beak. Below Washington is an allegorical figure of Liberty and a Native American (representing the Western Hemisphere) seated among Washington’s armor, sword, and a fasces— iconography of his military and political career.
This pitcher is part of the McCauley collection of American themed transfer print pottery. There is no mark on the pitcher to tell us who made it, but it is characteristic of wares made in large volume for the American market in both Staffordshire and Liverpool between 1790 and 1820. Pitchers of this shape, with a cream colored glaze over a pale earthenware clay, known as Liverpool type, were the most common vessels to feature transfer prints with subjects commemorating events and significant figures in the early decades of United States’ history. Notwithstanding the tense relationship between Britain and America, Liverpool and Staffordshire printers and potters seized the commercial opportunity offered them in the production of transfer printed earthenwares celebrating the heroes, the military victories, and the virtues of the young republic, and frequently all of these things at once.
Currently not on view
place made
United Kingdom: England, Liverpool
Physical Description
transfer printed (overall production method/technique)
polychrome (overall surface decoration color name)
ceramic, earthenware, refined (overall material)
overall: 13 in x 12 5/8 in x 9 5/8 in; 33.02 cm x 32.0675 cm x 24.4475 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
collector/donor number
Credit Line
Robert H. McCauley
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Ceramics and Glass
Domestic Furnishings
McCauley Liverpool Pottery
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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