RARE Scottish Pottery Jug by M.L. Fairgrieve - Glasgow Girls Artist
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This large, stunning Arts and Crafts era pitcher is a rarely found item, hand painted circa 1910 by Mary L. Fairgrieve (1875-1967*) of Glasgow, Scotland. Mary was enrolled at the Glasgow School of Art as a day student from 1908 to 1911 and from 1911 to 1912 as an evening student. She became skilled in ceramic painting there and was influenced by eminent artist and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh, who attended the same school. Mary Fairgrieve was a member of a group of young women who were given the name "Glasgow Girls;" in 1990, the exhibition "Glasgow Girls: Women in Art and Design 1880-1920" and the book by the same title showcased their contributions to what became known worldwide as "The Glasgow Style." There are some examples of Mary Fairgrieve's ceramics in the McLean Museum, Greenock, Scotland and they were also featured in the Kirkcudbright, Scotland "Glasgow Girls Exhibition" in 2010.
This bulbous pitcher was painted with fruit and flowers in red, green, blue, purple and yellow, forming a band around the center that is bordered top and bottom in cobalt blue checkered with cream colored vertical lines. The C-shaped handle and pulled spout are cobalt blue, also. The dramatic line of words, hand painted in cobalt letters strongly influenced by a Celtic font, reads:
MAY. YE. LEVE. AND. HAPPY. MAY. YE. BE. LANG.
Our understanding from our research is that in Scottish "LEVE" (the usual spelling is "leeve") is "live" and " LANG" is "long", so this is probably a wish for a long and happy life.
This pitcher is 6 inches tall to the top of the spout, with an approximately 21 inch circumference around the belly. From spout to handle is about 8 inches and the base measures 4 5/8 inches in diameter. The bottom is signed in cobalt "MLF" with Mary's cipher of a sitting cat alongside. It is in excellent condition---no cracks or chips or repairs---with the exception of the interior bottom. In photograph # 7, you see spots of brown on the sides--those were applied intentionally. At the very bottom, however, is a web of crazing that has picked up embedded dirt over the last 100+ years. Although we have thoroughly soaked and washed this jug, we were reluctant to use stronger cleaning methods. Fortunately, one does not usually stare into the bottom and the rest of the piece displays beautifully.
>>>White spots are, of course, only the reflections of our lighting.
*Mary Fairgrieve's year of death was originally and erroneously published as 1969. That date has been cited on various sites, but we have verified it was 1967.