Designs Relating To Lafayette
I HAVE never seen in America any pieces of English pottery or porcelain bearing the name, portrait of Lafayette, or any reference to him that could be assigned to an earlier date of manufacture than 1824, the time of Lafayette's last visit to America. It is worthy of note, however, that the Lafayette pieces of crockery that were printed to commemorate and illustrate that memorable visit and that triumphal journey are, as a rule, in a much better state of preservation, freer from marks of fierce assaulting knives, barer of nicks and cracks, than other American historical pieces of the same date. The great veneration and affection felt by all Americans for the noble character of Lafayette, and their gratitude for his assistance in times of war, were doubtless the cause of the careful preservation of the pieces relating to him and printed in his honor. The fine platter shown on page 294, which is the clearest, darkest, " Landing" print I have ever seen, was always kept carefully wrapped in an ancient hand-woven "flannel sheet," and laid away in an upper drawer of a high chest, a " high boy," in a New-England farm-house, until it was ruthlessly removed from its honored seclusion of half a century, and hung on the wall of my dining-room.
During the triumphal journey of Lafayette through this country in 1824, ladies, in honor of him, wore sashes and belt-ribbons printed with his name and likeness, gloves with his portrait stamped upon the back, and medallions with laudatory inscriptions relating to him fastened upon their neck-ribbons and necklaces; while men and boys wore Lafayette medals, medallions, and buttons. Of all these tokens few now remain ; but the various Lafayette plates and pitchers form lasting mementos of the visit of the " Nation's Guest." Few families in New England appear to have had more than two or three of the Lafayette pieces, but in the vicinity of New York persons purchased whole dinner services, especially of the " Landing" pattern. Mrs. Roebling owns the remains of an entire set purchased by her father, General Warren. Mr. William C.. Prime also owns an entire service.
La Grange, the home of Lafayette, was a familiar scene to Americans, for many transparencies and paintings of the chateau were exhibited during Lafayette's tour in 1824, and two views of it appear on plates and platters. With these I continue the list of historical designs and subjects.
6S. Lafayette. La Grange. Enoch Wood & Sons.
This is a dingy and poorly printed view of the gloomy entrance to the chateau, with its great fir-trees, an engraving of which is seen in Cloquet's "Recollections of Lafayette." The blue is good in tint, though the print is indistinct. It has a poor, confused shell border. On the back the stamp of Enoch Wood & Sons, and the mark " La Grange, the Home of Lafayette." A plate with this design is here shown.
69. Lafayette. La Grange 2. Wood.
The superb platters with this print bear on the back, in a wreath of laurel, the stamp " Southwest view of Lagrange, the residence of Marquis La Fayette," also the impressed stamp of Wood. The color is of the richest dark - blue tint, a true "lapis to delight the world ." Across the top of the platter the border is formed in a graceful design of grapes and vine leaves. On the left the border is composed of finely drawn stalks of hollyhocks. On the right a tree and foliage form the border. On the lower rim is a design of fleur-de-lis and roses. The view of the chateau is different from No. 68, the whole front of the house being shown. A broad expanse of lawn fills the foreground, across which two dogs are running. Up a path on the left walk a man, woman, and child. I have never seen but two pieces bearing this design, both large platters twenty-three inches long. I purchased one for $12, which large price was unwillingly paid ; but as I had never seen nor heard of any pieces bearing such a design, I could not bear to lose it when I believed it to be unique. Within a week after this purchase I saw the second and better platter and bought it for $I.50, and now I expect to find manyanother piece with this " Southwest view of Lagrange." I give these prices to show the impossibility of assigning a definite value to those " old blue " Staffordshire pieces. One of these platters was obtained through the sale of the old dining-room furnishings of Barnum's Hotel, in Baltimore.
70. Lafayette. Medallion.
This design is the head of Lafayette in blue on a white porcelain plate, with the surrounding words, " Welcome, Lafayette, the Nation's Guest and our Country's Glory." The plate has an embossed border similar in design to that upon some New Hall plates in my possession. It is unmarked. The portrait is exceedingly ugly and mean.
71. Lafayette. Portrait.
A pitcher of stone-ware printed in blue, with a portrait of Lafayette on one side, with this legend, `` In commemoration of the visit of Lafayette to the United States of America in 1824," and a wreath entwined with these words, " Lafayette, the Nation's Guest." On the other side a head of Washing-ton. Beneath the nose of the pitcher a spread eagle, and the terse sentence, " Republicans are not always ungrateful." One may be seen in the Trumbull-Prime Collection. I have also seen several for sale in city " antique-shops."
72. Lafayette. Medallion.
Medallion portrait of Lafayette and similar one of Washington on common white stone-ware mug. Some of these mugs also have the date 1824, not the year of manufacture apparently, but the date simply of Lafayette's visit to America.
73. Lafayette. Medallion.
A pitcher ten inches in height, bearing on both sides a good portrait of Lafayette, with this legend, " General Lafayette was born at Auvergne, in France. At 19 he arrived in America in a war-ship furnished at his own cost in 1777, & volunteered in our army as Major General. At Brandywine he was wondered but refused to quit the field ; he assisted the army with £ I0,000 from his own purse, and kept in service until our independence was sealed and country free ; in 1784 he returned to France loaded with honors and the gratitude of the American people ; in 1824 the Congress unanimously offered a ship for his return, he declined the honor, but landed from the Cadmus at New York, August 24th, 1824, amid the acclamations of 60,000 freemen." In front of the pitcher is another portrait of Lafayette in vignette, with this legend above it, " General Lafayette, welcome to the land of Liberty," and below, " He was born at Auvergne in France, 1757, joined the American struggle in 1777, and in 1824 returned to repose in the bosom of the land whose liberty he in part gave birth to." This pitcher is globose in shape, is in a good shade of blue, and is unmarked.
74. Lafayette. Cadmus. Enoch Wood & Sons.
This was the name of the ship which brought Lafayette to America.in 1824. The stamp "Cadmus" appears on a few only of the plates, and the others must be classified by the knowledge of, and comparison w i t h, t h e marked ones, or with the illustration here shown. This is an exceedingly beautiful plate ; the graceful shell border is so rich and dark a blue, and the centre expanse of water and full-sailed ship and sloop are so distinct and bright, that it gives one the impression of looking out from a dark cave upon the sunny ocean. Every plate that I have seen bearing this design has been of the finest color, clearest print, most brilliant glaze, and in good preservation.
They have the stamp "Enoch Wood & Sons." The Cadmus was built for Mr. William Whitlock, and belonged to the Havre line of packet-ships organized and managed by William Whitlock, Jr., & Co., of 46 South Street. When this eminent shipping-house learned that Lafayette had declined the offer of a national vessel, the members at once put the Cadmus at his service, declining to receive any remuneration therefor. No other passengers were allowed on board save the General and his suite, and the ship took no cargo. Captain Allyn was the commander. Lafayette fully appreciated this initial act of American friendship and hospitality, and the first private house at which he dined after arriving was at Mr. Whit-lock's. The ship became in later years a whaling vessel. The Long Island Historical Society have a portion of the wood-work of the berths from the state-room occupied by Lafayette.
75. Landing of Lafayette. Clews.
Pieces bearing this print are perhaps more eagerly sought after by collectors, patriots, and historical students than are those ' bearing any other design. The prints are all in dark blue of good tint (except a few rare polychrome prints of which I shall speak), but vary in clearness and distinctness. It is said that whole dinner-services and tea-services were printed with it, but I have never seen either teapots or creamers. I have found four sizes of plates, including the tiny cup-plates ; large soup-plates, pitchers, platters, bowls, and vegetable-dishes, and lovely little pepper-pots and salt-cellars. And I have also seen an imposing toilet service proudly bearing in richest blue the " Landing of Lafayette." The border is a handsome design of what I think is intended for laurel leaves (but which more resemble ash), clusters of flowers which are perhaps laurel blossoms, and larger flowers which may be wild roses, but look like jonquils. In the centre of the plates and on the sides of the larger dishes is a spirited design bearing at the base, in dark-blue letters, the words, " Landing of Lafayette. At Castle Garden, New York, August 24th, 1824." In the fore-ground of this view are marshals or sentinels on horseback, then comes a row of six smoking cannon, then the bay covered with beflagged shipping and small sail-boats, and two clumsy, strangely shaped steamers, the Robert Fulton and Chancellor Livingston, with their side-wheels quite up out of the water. At the right, a small bridge over the water leads to an inclosed fort, over which floats the flag of the United States. Over all is a sky of strongly defined clouds. On the back is the impressed stamp, " Warranted Clews Stafford-shire." A platter with this design is here shown. Plates of this pattern sell for from four to ten dollars, according to clearness, condition, and size. This design has been seen in poly-chrome. A few years ago there stood in a barroom in New York an enormous punch-bowl capable of holding many gallons. It bore printed or painted in high and varied colors the " Landing of Lafayette." Plates and platters also have been offered for sale in New York with the design in many colors. Sometimes this design is found upon pitchers with a poor portrait of Lafayette.
Lafayette arrived in the Cadmus at Staten Island on Sunday, but postponed by request his entrance into New York until the following day. The landing at the Battery must have been a magnificent sight. The steamship Robert Fulton, manned by two hundred sailors from the Constitution, and her companion ship the Chancellor Livingston, " led in triumph rather than towed the Cadmus to the place of landing." Two hundred thousand persons welcomed the General with shouts, cannon thundered from the shore, the forts, the vessels. Flags, triumphal arches, decorations of various kinds adorned the streets and buildings. For those who, when they glance at their "Landing" plates, wish to find the image of the General there present, I will add that he was then sixty-eight years of age, was conceded by all to be far from a beautiful or heroic figure; with his small head, staring eyes, retreating forehead, and had complexion, and he wore on that occasion "nankeen pantaloons, huff vest, and plain blue coat with covered buttons."
76. Lafayette. Faience Patriotique. Nevers.
A plate of coarse pottery, with border of blue and yellow leaves. At the top two blue and yellow flags, and in the centre of the plate this legend in hand-painted, irregular letters of blue :
"Cadet Rousette a des plats bleus
This is a good specimen of the " Faiences Patriotiques." These revolutionary emblems were made at the Nevers Pottery, in France, in large numbers, at the time of the French Revolution. They were coarsely painted with patriotic, though frequently ill-spelled, designs and mottoes, and were designed to appeal to and influence the French peasantry. The great heat used in the firing prevented the potters from using red paint (since that color was destroyed by the high temperature), so in direct violation of all " rules of revolutionary iconology," the liberty cap was rendered in blue or yellow. It was in honor of the "Fayence of Nevers" that the poem of Defraney was written that begins,
" Chantons, Fille du Ciel, l'honneur de la Fayence !
This Nevers plate is in the Huntington Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
77. Lafayette. Faience Patriotique. Nevers.
Plate of coarse Nevers pottery with hideous profile portrait of Lafayette in yellow and blue, and date 1794. Border of blue leaves. Also in the Huntington Collection.
78. Lafayette. Faience Patriotique. Nevers.
Plate of coarse Nevers pottery with scroll border of green, yellow, and blue.. A full-face portrait of Lafayette in bright yellow, with purple hair. In the Huntington Collection.
79. Lafayette. Faience Patriotique. Nevers.
Large plate of Nevers pottery, fourteen inches in diameter, with slightly scalloped edge. In the centre a design of a long-legged bird with man's head, saying, " La Fayette, Je tends mes filets." The bird tramples under foot, or under claw, a head marked " le Roi Soliveau," and is addressing his remarks to a head on a pole with a flag marked " Loi Martiale." There is also a net-work or fence inclosing frogs. Above all, the inscription, " Les grenouilles qui demandent un Roi, ou le Roi Soliveau."
80. Latayette. Portrait. Sèvres.
A Sevres plate with an exquisitely painted portrait of Lafayette in full uniform. A rich border of red, blue, and gold. In the Huntington Collection.
81. Lafayette. Portrait.
Square plate with fluted border, with splashes of purple and yellow, like No.. 52. A spray of flowers in each corner. In the centre a fine profile portrait of Lafayette in full uniform. In the Huntington Collection.
82. Lafayette. Portrait. Plate with pierced border like No. 53. In the centre the same portrait as in No. 81. In the Huntington Collection.
83. Lafayette. Bust. Bust four inches in height. One of same set described in No. 31. One can be seen in Huntington Collection.
84. Lafayette. Medallion. White porcelain profile medallion about two inches and a half in diameter. No mark.
Lafayette. At the Tomb of Franklin.
Were we sure that the figure in this design is Lafayette, it would properly be placed here, but it is very uncertain whether the seated mourner is Lafayette, or merely some sombre-minded, non-historical, though patriotic citizen ; so a description and illustration of this design will be found among the Franklin Prints, No. 60.
Lafayette. At the Tomb of Washington.
See No. 33. The figure in this design may not be that of Lafayette.
Lafayette. Portrait. Erie Canal.
See No. 166. The presence of Lafayette at the formal opening of the Erie Canal was naturally felt to be a great honor, hence the appearance of his name on many of the plates ; but as the other design is more prominent it is classed under that name.
There are many modern Parian busts of poor likeness and indifferent artistic merit, and occasional hand-painted plaques of Lafayette, but they hardly come within the intentions and purpose of this list.
( Originally Published Early 1900's )