Between the years 1793 and 1796, a proliferation of small, creamware ale mugs and jugs, transfer-printed in enamel, were made by regional English ceramic factories. They depicted scaled-down images of two of the most well-publicized historical moments of the French Revolution: “The Final Farewell” of Queen Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI with their family, and the execution of Louis XVI, “La Guillotine”. Produced quickly in the years following the execution of the French king, now only a few examples remain. These fascinating yet largely overlooked objects form the focus of this talk, which seeks to describe the processes involved in, and the material and historical consequences of, scaling down such monumental sociocultural events onto handheld ceramics. Whilst scholars have paid attention to the visual and material phenomena of the French Revolution, few studies have centered on ceramics as historical and political agents. By embracing what Alden Cavanaugh and Michael E. Yonan have termed the “cultural aesthetics” of ceramics, I contextualize these objects within the broader frameworks in which they were designed, produced, and consumed.

Presented by Dr Caroline McCaffrey-Howarth (Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh).

This event is part of the A Material World: Private vs Public, which brings together academics and heritage professionals from a wide range of disciplines to discuss issues concerning historical objects, their materials, forms, and functions, as well as their conservation, presentation, display, and reconstruction.