Bottles like these are known as bartmann, or bearded man, bottles, after the face on the neck. They were produced in the hundreds thousands in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. These sturdy vessels were used to hold all sorts of liquids, ranging from wine to mercury, and were exported throughout Europe and Britain. They have also been found wherever Europeans went in Africa, Asia, and the Americas.
Bartmanns were often personalized with coats of arms or other insignia. This example is decorated with a heart containing the conjoined letters IHS beneath a cross, which represents the name of Jesus in Greek. It was used as a symbol for the Catholic order of the Jesuits from the sixteenth century.
This link to the Jesuits is somewhat ironic, considering that bottles like this were often known as bellarmines, a satirical reference to Cardinal Roberto Bellarmino, one of the leaders of the Catholic Counter-Reformation and the cleric who condemned Galileo's view that the earth revolved around the sun as heretical.
|Year Range from||1600|
|Year Range to||1650|
|Place of Origin||Made in Frechen, Germany|
|Collection||The Reeves Center|
|Credit line||Museum Purchase with Funds Provided by W. Groke Mickey|
|On View||Reeves Center, European Gallery|
|Gallery ID Number||125|