In the 18th century there was a fascination with the exotic and fantastical and the strange creature painted onto one side of this covered jug appears to be a cross between a camel and a leopard – and so it has become known as the Cameleopard Jug! The artist is also making a reference to classical history for the educated 18th century users of this costly porcelain jug as when Julius Caesar first brought a giraffe to Europe from Alexandria it was described by the Romans who saw it as a cross between a camel and a leopard.
This object was part of a tea service, the Museum also has the teapot in its collection. It probably held hot water to refresh the tea leaves in the pot for a second round or could have been used for hot milk also. The solid dark blue ground used on the body of the jug was an extremely fashionable look that Worcester borrowed from the porcelains created at Vincennes and Sèvres in France and they were the most successful of the English factories in controlling the pigment to achieve a rich even colour.
The quality and originality of the animal paintings identify this as the work of Jefferyes Hamett O’Neale (1734 – 1801), an Irish miniaturist of note who painted at the Chelsea factory before coming to live and work in Worcester during the years 1768 – 1770. He was highly regarded for painting miniatures of both figures and animals. The cameleopard painted here is a combination of O’Neale’s own animal studies engraved for a publication called ‘The Ladies Amusement’ – a collection of all sorts of motifs that could be used for design and sketching.
Artist: Jefferyes Hamett O'Neale
Material: Soft paste porcelain
Factory: Dr Wall
From the Archive
Showstopper sponsor: Linda and David Birtwhistle
As enthusiastic tea drinkers we find this fascinating piece particularly appealing. Who would not love such exotic artistic endeavour ?