Pots with attitude
British satires on ceramics 1760–1830

12 January – 11 March 2018


Room 90a


Recommend this exhibition

Bonaparte Dethron’d April 1st 1814. Creamware jug, Cambrian Pottery, Swansea, Wales, transfer-printed in black and painted in enamels, 1814. On loan from a private collection.

Through a selection of prints and pots, this display explores the history of political and satirical prints transfer-printed onto British ceramics.

In the 1750s, English potteries began to embrace the new technique of transferring printed images onto inexpensive ceramic wares directly from copper plates. They quickly exploited the possibilities of this method to international acclaim and commercial gain.

Ceramics are rarely confrontational, but the mugs and jugs in this display from the reigns of George III and IV. are exceptions. During this era in Britain, utilitarian ceramics were transformed with images taken from contemporary engravings into platforms criticising the latest political propaganda or blunder.

The satirical prints on show were published in London between 1770 and 1830, and were aimed at wealthy urban collectors. The ceramics were able to reach a larger audience. Cheap printed ceramics spread the political agendas found on the costly prints across a much broader audience associated with rowdy alehouses and country inns.

This display is part of a one-year Monument Trust-funded curatorial project to research links between 18th-century prints and ceramics.