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English School (20th century) Flowers & Toby Jug, Oil on Canvas


Code: 3037


W: 50cm (19.7")H: 55cm (21.7")

A beautiful early 20th century English oil on canvas still life depicting purple flowers and a Toby Jug on a ledge. Very interesting still life painting of an unusual subject.

Provenance: Christie's London, 29 July 1988, Lot 75

Artist/School: English School, early 20th century
Title: Flowers & Toby Jug
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 21.5 x 19.5 inches (55 x 50 cm) including frame

A Toby Jug, also sometimes known as a Fillpot (or Philpot), is a pottery jug in the form of a seated person, or the head of a recognizable person. Typically the seated figure is a heavy-set, jovial man holding a mug of beer in one hand and a pipe of tobacco in the other and wearing 18th-century attire: a long coat and a tricorn hat. The tricorn hat forms a pouring spout, often with a removable lid, and a handle is attached at the rear. Jugs depicting just the head and shoulders of a figure are also referred to as Toby jugs, although these should strictly be called "character jugs" or face jugs, the wider historical term.

The original Toby Jug, with a brown salt glaze, was developed and popularised by Staffordshire potters in the 1760s. It is thought to be a development of similar Delft jugs that were produced in the Netherlands.[3] Similar designs were produced by other potteries, first in Staffordshire, then around England, and eventually in other countries. The Jug in the form of a Head, Self-portrait (1899) by Paul Gauguin is an unusual example from a painter. They were made in the 1760s in the Netherlands.

There are competing theories for the origin of the name "Toby Jug".[4] Although it has been suggested that the pot is named after Sir Toby Belch in Shakespeare's play Twelfth Night, or Uncle Toby in Thomas Sterne's Tristram Shandy, the most widely accepted theory is that the original was a Yorkshireman, Henry Elwes, 'famous for drinking 2,000 gallons of strong stingo beer from his silver tankard, while eating nothing....He was nicknamed Toby Fillpot, and after his death in 1761 the London publisher of popular prints, Carrington Bowles, issued a mezzotint portrait of him. It became a best-seller - as did the Burslem Potter Ralph Wood's "Toby" jugs based on the portrait.'[5] Toby Fillpot was also the subject of a popular poem, 'The Brown Jug', by Francis Fawkes:

'DEAR TOM , this brown jug, that now foams with mild ale, (In which I will drink to sweet Nan of the Vale) Was once Toby Fillpot, a thirsty old soul As e'er drank a bottle or fathomed a bowl; In boosing about 't was his praise to excel, And among jolly topers he bore off the bell.

It chanced, as in dog-days he sat at his ease, In his flower-woven arbour, as gay as you please, With a friend and a pipe, puffing sorrows away, And with honest old Stingo was soaking his clay, His breath-doors of life on a sudden were shut, And he died full as big as a Dorchester butt.

His body when long in the ground it had lain, And time into clay had resolved it again, A potter found out in its covert so snug, And with part of fat Toby he formed this brown jug; Now sacred to friendship, to mirth, and mild ale, So here 's to my lovely sweet Nan of the Vale.'