Pitcher Modeler: Charles Coxon (British, 1805–1868)
Maker: Millington, Astbury and Paulson (American, 1859–1870)
Honorand: Elmer Ephraim Ellsworth, American, 1837–1861
Honorand: James W. Jackson, American, ca. 1824–1861

after 1861

American Decorative Arts

On view, 1st floor, American Decorative Arts before 1900

An extraordinary scene, rooted in a dark moment in the Civil War, is molded in relief on the side of this pitcher. The ghostly white figures commemorate the violent deaths of Elmer Ephraim Ellsworth, a charismatic Union officer, and James W. Jackson, a steadfast secessionist innkeeper. On the morning of March 24, 1861, Ellsworth and his company landed in Alexandria, Virginia. Ellsworth marched his troops up King Street, where he split off with four men to take the telegraph office. Spying a Rebel banner atop the Marshall House Hotel, he and his men detoured and made their way to the hotel's roof to cut down the flag. As they came down the stairs, Jackson, the hotel's proprietor, shot Ellsworth and was in turn was shot and bayoneted by Ellsworth's men. Both Ellsworth and Jackson became martyrs overnight, inspiring the enlistment of men on both sides, and Lincoln insisted that Ellsworth's body lie in state in the East Room of the White House. As the Union Army's first fallen hero, Ellsworth inspired prints, poetry, needlework, song, and this pitcher, perhaps the earliest example of American-made ceramics commemorating an historical event. The ability of Richard Millington and John Astbury's pottery to produce this tribute in a mere matter of months owes much to the skill of Charles Coxon, the seasoned Staffordshire-trained modeler who was working in Trenton at the time.

Medium

Glazed ironstone

Dimensions

8 1/4 × 8 1/2 × 7 1/2 in. (21 × 21.6 × 19.05 cm)

Credit Line

Mabel Brady Garvan Collection

Accession Number

1931.1843

Culture
Period

19th century

Classification
Disclaimer

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.

Provenance

Provenance

Edwin AtLee Barber (1851–1916), Philadelphia; consigned by his estate to Samuel T. Freeman and Company, Philadelphia, December 10–11, 1917, lot 107; sold to Francis P. Garvan (1875–1937), New York, December 10, 1917; given to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 1931
Bibliography
  • Elizabeth Fox, "Objects of Valor: Colonel Elmer Ephraim Ellsworth and Mythmaking in the Civil War," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2022–23), 32–39, fig. 2
  • Helen A. Cooper et al., Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: American Art from the Yale University Art Gallery, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2008), 151, no. 89, ill
  • Handbook of the Collections, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 125, ill
  • Samuel T. Freeman and Co., Philadelphia, Pa., The Collection of the Late Edwin AtLee Barber, A.M., Ph.D., sale cat. (1917), 22, lot 107
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

pitchers, utilitarian objects

Marks

Impressed in medallion on bottom: M, A, P, / TRENTON / NJ

Technical metadata and APIs

IIIF

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