Donyatt Puzzle Jug

Published 11th January 2009

Perhaps because I’m flawed myself, I despise perfection – perfection has no character – no matter how great its quality. Perfection in porcelain is something to be admired in itself, the skill and dexterity to make something so perfect it could have been made by a machine!

For me there can be nothing greater than the naive charm of an object that shows the ‘free’ hand of its artisan maker, a comforting earthiness, an accidental fingerprint perhaps. Peasant art, and rather backward looking maybe, but a Donyatt puzzle jug has all the warmth, comfort and character that anyone could wish for from a ‘useful’ object.

I was bought up in Bideford and now live in Somerset, literally miles from the site of the old Donyatt pottery – of course I’m biased. Donyatt shows all the character of the popular, but unaffordable Bideford and Barnstaple harvest jugs, probably because the raw material was the same in both places and because one John Jewell made the trip from Bideford to nearby Chard in the 1690s.

The body, glaze and style of decoration remained fairly consistent for centuries. The example illustrated is from the latter years of the Donyatt pottery and was probably produced by the Arlidge family.

a donyatt puzzle jug from somerset

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