Brown salt-glazed stoneware bottle having a short neck with a rim; an applied, molded bearded man face on the neck, a loop handle; and a bulbous body with an applied oval medallion on the center front. the medallion contains the conjoined initials "IHS" beneath a cross and contained within a heart.
Known as bartmann, or bearded man, bottles, after the face on the neck, bottles like these were produced in the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands in Frechen, near Cologne in modern-day Germany, 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, and have also been found wherever Europeans went in Africa, Asia, and the Americas.
Bartmann bottles 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 stands for the name of Jesus in Greek. Popular as a devotional image from the fifteenth century, from the sixteenth century it was used as a symbol for the Catholic order of the Jesuits.
This link to the Jesuits is somewhat ironic, considering that bottles like this were often known as ballarmines, a satirical reference to Cardinal Roberto Bellarmino (1542-1621), 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|