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Nelson commemorative jug

Date: 1806
Overall: 150 x 165 x 135 mm, 0.45 kg
Medium: Ceramic
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Jug
Object No: 00018410
Place Manufactured:Staffordshire

User Terms

    Here we have a commemorative ceramic dedicated to the life and death of the famous British Admiral Horatio Nelson. It features transfer-prints of Nelson’s great warship HMS VICTORY and a portrait of the naval commander himself. It dates to the period following his death at the Battle of Trafalgar in October 1805 when the British people mourned his loss and commemorative wares were eagerly sought as a reminder of his greatness.
    SignificanceTo many, Nelson embodies the qualities of valour and leadership and his naval wartime strategies have become legendary. To this day he is one of the most recognised heroes of British naval power and commemorative and souvenir wares featuring his likeness continue to be sold, more than 200 years after his death.
    HistoryFeatured here is a fine example of an earthenware jug, transfer-printed in brown with a moulded lip and handle and almost certainly manufactured by one of the Staffordshire potteries to commemorate the life of the British naval powerhouse, Vice Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson (1758-1805). We find on one side a portrait of the Admiral himself with the inscriptions ‘NELSON’, and ‘England Expects every man to do his duty’ and ‘Shew me my Country’s Foes, the Hero cry’d, / He saw – He fought – He conquered – and he di’d’.

    The other side features Nelson’s famous ship in battle, with ‘VICTORY’ inscribed above. There is a further inscription under the lip with a naval trophy ‘HORATIO LORD VISCOUNT / NELSON / VICE ADMIRAL OF THE WHITE/ Knight of the Order of the Bath / Duke of Bronte in Sicily / Grand Cross of the Order of Ferdi / nand and of Merit and Knight of / the Imperial Order of the / Crescent, Copenhagen, Nile, Trafalgar’.

    The jug also features scrolling foliage around the transfer-prints and a band of similar foliage runs around the neck of the jug along with the oft-found design of trophies of captured flags and arms, such as cannon and swords. A border of laurel runs inside the rim. The handle is decorated with transfers and the edges and rim are painted with ochre lines.

    The transfer-prints are no doubt based on engravings popular at the time of Nelson’s death.

    Similar brown transfer-print jugs are held in the collection of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, United Kingdom (AAA4886, AAA4889 and E5985); and also one in blue (AAA4853).

    Horatio Nelson entered the Royal Navy as a midshipman in 1771 and his early experience included time in the merchant service, voyages to the Arctic and East Indies, and he was senior officer on an expedition against Spanish possessions in Nicaragua. Following the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, he served in the Mediterranean in command of HMS AGAMEMNON. An expedition to capture a Spanish treasure ship at Santa Cruz in the Canaries was unsuccessful and he returned home following the loss of his right arm. After his recovery he commanded a squadron sent back into the Mediterranean against French forces gathering in Toulon. Following a gale, the French fleet escaped but was eventually located and destroyed at Aboukir Bay in Egypt. Nelson returned to service as second in command to Sir Hyde Parker in action against the Danes at Copenhagen.
    From 1803, in command of the Mediterranean fleet with his flagship HMS VICTORY, Nelson blockaded the French fleet in Toulon. In 1805, the French evaded the blockade and were pursued by Nelson across the Atlantic and back to Cadiz where they joined with the Spanish fleet. This combined fleet left port only to be decisively defeated off Cape Trafalgar, an action in which Nelson was mortally wounded.

    Nelson was loved by his men and the British public; he was a brilliant naval tactician and leader but his private life was the stuff of gossip magazines - his marriage broke up after he fell in love with Lady Emma Hamilton, wife of the British ambassador to Naples. This liaison resulted in the birth of a daughter, Horatia.

    Nelson's death at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805 was keenly felt across the British Empire. It also spawned a souvenir and commemorative ware industry that continues into the 21st century.

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