Peasants' Wedding Jug
Peasants’ Wedding Jug

These fragments of a sizable salt-glazed stoneware jug depict a fun scene. Although archaeologists have only found a few pieces, one sherd with the date 1597 and dancing couples helped identify this jug. The Peasants’ Wedding motif, first used by potters working in Raeren, is based on The Country Wedding or The Twelve Months print series created by Sebald Benham. This set of 10 engravings, made by Benham in 1546, depict various scenes of peasants’ revelry, including dancing, drinking, and feasting. Archaeologists found an almost intact parallel at an early 17th-century site in nearby Isle Of Wight County on the James River’s southside.

While the date 1597 on this jug indicates that it was made long after the 1550 death of Beham, the potters creating these vessels were inspired by artwork produced not too far from their workshops. Beham’s hometown was Nuremberg, Germany, and he later settled in Frankfurt. Increased religious freedom in Frankfurt and a growing engraving and book publication and illustration industry popularized Beham’s work, which often depicted scenes of everyday life and peasant festival imagery.