Claret jug

Designer: Designed by Archibald Knox (British, 1864–1933)

Manufacturer: Manufactured by W.H. Haseler

Maker: for the firm of Liberty & Co. (British, founded London, 1875)

Date: 1900–1901

Culture: British, Birmingham

Medium: Silver, chrysoprase

Dimensions: Overall (with handle): 11 13/16 × 6 3/8 in. (30 × 16.2 cm)

Classification: Metalwork-Silver

Credit Line: Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1992

Accession Number: 1992.346


Founded in 1875, Liberty & Company had many parallels with Siegfried Bing's Paris shop L'Art Nouveau. By importing fashionable designs from continental Europe and Asia, as well as exporting their own designs abroad, Liberty would become one of the most successful of the department stores with the policy of commissioning designs from leading artists and architects of the day. Indeed, the firm's importance is reflected in the Italian term, lo stile Liberty, or "Liberty style," which is often used to generically describe avant-garde taste from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Knox was one of Liberty's most popular and prolific designers, in particular producing designs for silver goods, the best known of which were the Tudric line and the Cymric line, of which this claret jug is an example. Though it may superficially recall the aesthetics of contemporaneous French Art Nouveau, the jug is uniquely British in drawing aesthetic inspiration from traditional Celtic designs. Its flat disk base effectively grounds the jug's sinuous decorative curves and remarkable flyaway thumbpiece.