A stained glass panel thought to depict Copenhagen in Denmark; one of the trading hubs used by York’s merchants in the Medieval period.
Roberto Bellarmino, c.1622
Amongst the more unusual goods imported into York were ceramics like this Bellarmine wine jug. Made predominantly in Germany and also known as Bartmann (German for bearded man) the grotesque face was a caricature of Cardinal Roberto Bellarmino, a fierce opponent of Protestantism in the countries where the jugs were made. The jugs were a double insult as Cardinal Bellarmino was known for his anti-alcohol stance!
The wine jugs would have graced tables across Europe, including that of William Hart, a York merchant who was based in Emden in Northern Germany – a prosperous port and centre for reformed Protestantism in the 17th Century.
As the Empire style took hold across 19th Century Europe, anything French was seen as the height of sophistication, even in a country like England who was at war with France! Another unusual object which may have found its way off a boat in York was the model of Napoleon; used to advertise snuff. It stood outside a tobacconists on Bridge Street in York. Napoleon was a keen snuff taker, even feeding it to deer at his chateau!
The fashionable residents of York heading out for a boat trip on the River Ouse in this early 19th Century oil painting
As trends came and went, the Merchants’ prosperity also ebbed and flowed with the fortunes of York and its rivers…
Image Credits The fashionable residents of York heading out for a boat trip on the River Ouse in this early 19th Century oil painting.