New Book | Pots, Prints, and Politics

Posted in books by Editor on June 7, 2021

From Oxbow Books:

Patricia Ferguson, ed., Pots, Prints, and Politics: Ceramics with an Agenda, from the 14th to the 20th Century (London: The British Museum Press, 2021), 196 pages, ISBN: 978-0861592296, £40 / $80.

In this lavishly illustrated publication, 15 leading scholars challenge and interrogate a mixture of Asian and European ceramic objects—from teapots to chamber pots—bringing to light new meanings and agendas that are just as provocative now, as when they were made. The medium behind these messages are graphic sources. From Chinese woodblock prints to Japanese kyōka surimono (‘printed things’), and European copperplate engravings to chromolithographs, prints circulated ideas. Potters across time and cultures adapted these images into ceramic bodies or covered their surfaces with hand-painted or transfer-printed representations, giving expression to serious political and social issues: propaganda, self-promotion, piety, race, gender, national, and regional identities. Driven by commercial gain, altruism or imperial dictate, ceramic artists and manufacturers often risked their livelihoods, if not their lives, articulating their convictions.

The authors in this volume have explored these narratives on a variety of wares employing the British Museum’s world-renowned print collection as a base, as well as studying visual culture for material references. Pots, Prints and Politics invites us to look at ceramics as social objects, deciphering their many critical debates masquerading as mere ornament.

This publication has been generously supported by Ceramica-Stiftung Basel.

Patricia F. Ferguson was Project Curator in the Britain, Europe and Prehistory Department at the British Museum from 2017 until 2020, focusing on European ceramics and print sources. Between 2006 and 2017, she was a consulting curator in the Asian and Ceramics Departments of the Victoria and Albert Museum. As Honorary Adviser on Ceramics to the National Trust, she published Ceramics: 400 Years of British Collecting in 100 Masterpieces (2016) and Garnitures: Vase Sets from National Trust Houses (2016).


Introduction, Patricia Ferguson

1  Luk Yu-ping (The British Museum), Pots, Prints, and Politics in China? Some Examples from the 14th to 17th Centuries
2  Elaine Buck (SOAS), A 14th-Century Longquan Pot with a Dual Purpose
3  Wenyuan Xin (The British Museum), Illustrated Hagiographies and Figure Production in Late Ming Fujian
4  Dora Thornton (Curator, Goldsmith’s Company), ‘Take Note’: The Construction of Political Allegories of the Sack of Rome (1527) on Italian Renaissance Maiolica in the British Museum
5  Elisa Paola Sani (The Courtauld Gallery), War on a Plate: The Battle of Mühlberg on a Maiolica Dish at the Wallace Collection, London
6  Claire Blakey (Burrell Collection) and Rachel King (British Museum), Prints and Post-Palissian Ceramics
7  Helen Glaister (Victoria and Albert Museum), Exotic Self-Reflections: Fashioning Chinese Porcelain for European Eyes
8  Catrin Jones (V&A Wedgwood Collection), ‘Aux plaisirs des dames’: Designing and Redesigning a Meissen Bourdalone
9  Patricia Ferguson (Hon. Adviser on Ceramics, The National Trust), Myth and Materiality: Admiral Anson’s Chinese Armorial Dinner Service at Shugborough Hall, Staffordshire
10  Alessandro Biancalana (Independent art historian and author), From stampa and riporto to giochi di bambini: Transfer Printing and Iconographic Sources at Carlo Ginori’s Porcelain Manufactory at Doccia
11  Sheila O’Connell (The British Museum), Jefferyes Hamett O’Neale (act. 1750–1801): Porcelain Painter and Print Designer
12  Caroline McCaffrey-Howarth (Victorian and Albert Museum), Propaganda on Pots: ‘King Louis’s Last Interview with his Family’ on a Creamware Mug, 1793–95
13  Mary Redfern (Chester Beatty Library), Pots for Poets: Ceramics Up-Close in Japanese Prints, Including Hokusai’s Everything Concerning Horses
14  Ronald W. Fuchs II (Reeves Center, Washington and Lee University) and Patricia Ferguson (Hon. Adviser on Ceramics, The National Trust), ‘Remember them that are in Bonds’: A Plate Made for the Abolition Movement
15  Mary Ginsberg (The British Museum), Appropriated Heroes: Prints, Pots, and Political Symbols in Revolutionary China


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