Thursday, 26 September 2013

Jacobite glass

Most Jacobite glass was made between 1740 and 1760. It combined the  practical function with a symbolic role by demonstrating, in safe company, loyalty to the Stuart dynasty. A superb collection is on display at the National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh as part of the exhibition 'Imagining Power'.

The most common symbol was a rose with one or two buds. The rose represented James Francis Edward Stuart, and the buds his two sons, Chalres and Henry. The white rose (Scottish rosa alba maxima) was the heraldic badge of the Jacobites and used as an emblem to identify supporters of the cause.

The most explicit statements of loyalty were the 'Amen' glasses, thirty seven of which are known today. These wine glasses all have the royal cipher 'JR' for Jacobus Rex, the figure '8', verses from the Jacobite anthem and the word 'Amen', meaning 'Let it be.' The verses describe the king as 'Soon to reign over us', referring to James's exile in Rome. (The anthem was later appropriated by the Hanoverian regime, with a few word changes.)

Jacobite glasses engraved with the image of Prince Charles Edward Stuart are very rare, those engraved with an enamel portrait and even scarcer (only eight are known.)

The glasses were commissioned both by families loyal to the Stuarts and by Jacobite societies for use in their drinking rituals. Toasts were made to the 'king over the water' and the glass was passed over a water bowl or glass of water to signify it was the Stuart king over the water being honored.