Extremely Rare and Important Edgefield, South Carolina, Stoneware Face Harvest Jug

WORLD AUCTION RECORD: AMERICAN FACE JUG

July 22, 2017 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 111

Price Realized: $100,300.00
($85,000 hammer, plus 18% buyer's premium).

July 22, 2017 Auction Catalog

◀ Back to Catalog

Exceedingly Rare and Important Alkaline-Glazed Stoneware Face Harvest Jug, Edgefield District, SC origin, circa 1845-1855, with Stereopticon Photograph, "The Aesthetic Darkey" from "Aiken and Vicinity", J.A Palmer, Aiken, S.C., 1882, ovoid form with arched horizontal handle and tubular pouring spout with semi-squared mouth, the front decorated with a hand-modeled and applied clay face; features include bulging eyes with pieced pupils and rounded lids, thin, delicately-curved eyebrows with incised hair detail above, a small nose with pinched bridge and pierced nostrils, and a slightly-open mouth revealing small carved teeth. Surface covered in an appealing, mottled-green alkaline glaze with heavy iron spotting throughout. This glaze appears lighter over the face's kaolin eyes and teeth. This face vessel belongs to a very small, but iconic group, of Edgefield harvest jugs, made famous by the 1882 stereopticon image by photographer, J.A. Palmer, entitled "The Aesthetic Darkey". This image pictures an African-American boy seated at a table with an Edgefield face harvest jug holding a sunflower. The harvest jug ilustrated in the photo is made by the same skilled artisan as the harvest jug to be sold in our July 22 auction. Included in this lot is an original example of this photograph, titled and numbered "566" in pencil on reverse, included in a double-sided ebonized frame. The rare 19th century depiction of a Southern face vessel in situ, albeit in a staged setting, has sparked great interest into the maker of these specific harvest jugs. While as-yet-unidentified, the maker was one of the more talented and individualistic face vessel producers in the Edgefield District, his work typified by a gentle countenance to the face, small incised teeth, a heavily-domed top to the vessel, and large C-scroll ears. The example to be auctioned also bears differences from other Edgefield face vessels in the intriguing construction of the eyebrows. The jug's creator formed the eyebrows with a greater sense of realism than commonly, making them smaller and thinner, with abruptly curved ends and highly-unusual incised hair above. This exciting offering is considered to be the finest Edgefield face vessel to come to auction in many years, its value and importance enhanced by a famous Southern image. Literature: Harvest jug is illustrated on p. 14 of Koverman, Making Faces: Southern Face Vessels from 1840-1900, Columbia: The McKissick Museum, University of South Carolina, 2001. For discussion on J.A. Palmer, see Teal, Partners with the Sun: South Carolina Photographers 1840-1890, pp. 123, 125, 126, 273, 279, 280, and 329; see Teal, p. 275, for an illustration of the photograph. Excellent condition with an in-the-firing clay separation along one edge of each eye and on one side of mouth, fairly common among Edgefield face vessels. Shallow chipping to one ear. Photograph in very nice condition with a wrinkle to left image. a tiny wrinkle to edge of right image, minor worn spot to right image, and a small, very faint stain to reverse. H 10 1/4".


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Bidding is now closed.
(Our next auction takes place March 24, 2018.)

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