Face jug

Unrecorded Edgefield District potter American
Manufacturer Unknown Old Edgefield District Pottery

Not on view

This figural face jug, possibly made at the Miles Mills pottery site operated and owned by Lewis J. Miles (1808-1868), is an excellent example of the enigmatic face vessel, a form produced in the mid-19th century at numerous potteries throughout Edgefield District, South Carolina, often by unidentified enslaved African American makers. To date, there are approximately 160 extant mid-19th century Edgefield face vessels known in private and public collections. Close observation of these objects suggests that they were made a various sites in and around Edgefield District, and by different hands. There are roughly a dozen distinct groups, each one bearing similar characteristics or related by technique/construction or materials. This example is distinctive in a number of ways: its rounded vessel shape; well-constructed, symmetrical features including its arched, connecting eyebrows; and the application of white paint on the eyes and red paint on the lips. In overall construction and style, it differs significantly from the other two Edgefield face vessels in the Metropolitan’s collection (22.26.4 and 2017.31). When examined together, one can observe the subtle variations in form, hand-modeled facial features, and the addition of new materials.

Unrecorded  Edgefield District potter (American), Alkaline-glazed stoneware with kaolin, American

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