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Bellarmine (jug in the form of a bearded man)

Key data

Frechen, 3rd quarter 16th century


height 24 cm



The "Bartmannkrüge aus rheinischem Steinzeug" (bearded men jugs of Rhenish stoneware), known in English as bellarmines, developed from the anthropomorphic vessels made in the Middle Ages in the area around Cologne. These early pieces, which probably had an apotropaic significance, had a modelled face and arms applied across the belly. They evolved in the C16 into a round bodied vessel with a stylised mask on the spout. The face and the other decorations were made from applied relief stamped pieces of clay. The decoration consists of formalised leaf shapes and round medallions with profile heads and a damaged inscription encircling the jug that repeats the words, "Des Herren Wort bleibt in Ewigkeit" (the word of the Lord is everlasting). The brown ground colour that is typical of these jugs was produced by a thin coating of slip containing iron that combined with salt thrown into the kiln when the temperature was at its highest. The resulting oxidization gives an orange skinned glaze. The touches of blue were produced by a small, similar to a glass flux, containing cobalt.

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Basel Historical Museum
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Steinenberg 4
PO box
CH – 4001 Basel

Reception: +41 61 205 86 00

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