German Brown Saltglaze stoneware ‘Bartmannkrug’ with rose leaves and rosettes

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Origin
Germany, Cologne, Maximinenstrasse workshop
Period
First quarter of the 16th century
Material
Stoneware
Dimensions
13 cm
Diameter
10.5 cm
Literature

Christel van Hees, Baardmannen en puntneuzen. Vorm, gebruik en betekenis van gezichtskruiken 1500-1700, Zwolle 2002.
A. Bruijn en J.G.N. Renaud, In kannen en kruiken: Nederlands gebruiksaardewerk van de 11e tot de 16e eeuw, Rotterdam 1963.
W.F. Renaud, H.J.E. van Beuningen, Verdraaid goed gedraaid: verzameling H.J.E. van Beuningen, Rotterdam 1973, pp. 38-43.  
Ekkart Klinge, Duits steengoed/ German stoneware, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam/ Waanders Zwolle, 1996, pp. 10-23 en 44-57.
John G. Hurst, David S. Neal, H.J.E. van Beuningen, with contrib. by Ann Clark, Pottery produced and traded in north-west Europe 1350-1650, Rotterdam Papers VI, A contribution to medieval archeology, Rotterdam 1986, pp. 208-221.
Heinrich Hellebrandt, Otto Eugen Mayer, Raerener Steinzeug; 15 Jahre Grabungen im Raerener Land, Aken 1967, pp. 9-29.
Ingeborg Unger, Die Kunst des deutschen Steinzeugs: Collection Karl und Petra Amendt und der Krefelder Kunstmuseen, Krefeld 2013, pp. 34-65.
Konrad Strauss, Frieder Aichele, Steinzeug / Battenberg Antiquitäten-Kataloge, Battenberg 1980, pp. 50-59.
Gisela Reineking-von Bock, Steinzeug, Kataloge des Kunstgewerbemuseums Köln; vol. 4, Keulen 1986, pp. 225-257.

Provenance

Collection E. Van Drecht
Amsterdam collection B. Overduin, Bloemendaal/ Spain

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Description

This Bartmann-type jug, with its characteristically grey body covered in a light brown slip, is made in Cologne, Germany, probably Maximinenstrasse workshop, in the first quarter of the sixteenth century. The neck is moulded with the characteristic bearded mask, the body is finely decorated in relief with branches with rose leaves and rosettes.

The high quality of the glaze and excellently execution of the decorations on the beardman jug point towards a provenance from a Maximinenstrasse workshop. Immigrant potters from nearby regions established factories principally on the Maximinenstrasse, which is why that area of Cologne housed one of the major stove-tile and stoneware production sites in the city during the sixteenth century.

The bearded man jug was most likely used for the consumption of alcoholic beverages, like beer or (perhaps) wine. Jugs from the first half of the sixteenth century, like the present jug, typically have a wide neck and are relatively small in size, making these pitchers suitable for drinking immediately. Because they were tableware they were luxurious and richly decorated. The bearded jugs from later times, at the end of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, are not too small, have a narrow neck and are well suited as a stock jar.

Bartmann or bearded man (also known as Brown Frechen or Bellarmine) are most well-known for the distinctive feature of a bearded figure on the neck of the jugs. The jugs were in great demand in Europe since the middle ages. They were made in Germany from 1500-1770, originally produced in Cologne but shortly after in more places in the Rhineland, notably Cologne, Frechen, Langerwehe, Raeren and Westerwald. The natural circumstances in these areas were excellent for the pottery industry, especially the type of fine, clean clay. In the high temperature needed to fire the stoneware pottery, the elements of this clay ‘melted’ together, making the fabric stone hard and completely watertight. Such stoneware was therefore excellently suited as a container or tableware for liquids. The stoneware vessels were relief-decorated with bearded face-masks in combination with various other decorations, such as floral elements, medallions or even aphoristic slogans.

An example of a beardman jug with a similar decoration is mentioned in Ingeborg Unger, Die Kunst des deutschen Steinzeugs: Collection Karl und Petra Amendt und der Krefelder Kunstmuseen, Krefeld 2013, figure 5, page 38.

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