The current exhibition at The Lyceum, “Patriotic and Public Spirited” Commemorative Wares in George Washington’s Hometown, has been extended through Sunday, July 31. The exhibition opened in November and features commemorative ceramic wares that reflect the Alexandria community’s keen interest in current and historic events.
Inspiration for the title of the current exhibition came from a column in The Local News, an Alexandria newspaper published during the Civil War, which asserted, “The people of Alexandria were always patriotic and public spirited.” Indeed, Alexandria has prided itself on being the hometown of George Washington and Robert E. Lee, and historic events such as George Washington’s Birthnight Ball and Lafayette’s 1824 visit to Alexandria were cause for great celebration. A variety of commemorative ceramic wares recovered from archaeological excavations or preserved in collections shows the community’s interest in events and historic places of local and national significance. These artifacts provide a tangible link to many generations of “patriotic and public spirited” Alexandrians.
Among the highlights of the “Patriotic and Public Spirited” exhibition are several artifacts commemorating George Washington, like the creamware pitcher produced shortly after his death and recovered from an excavation in the 400 block of King Street that features his likeness and reads “He in Glory, America in Tears.” Many pieces produced after the War of 1812 capture America’s patriotism and hope for prosperity, like a pearlware plate with an American eagle and enamel-painted shield, and a cameo jasper decoration on a pitcher depicting hands clasped in friendship with the expression “Peace & Plenty.”
“Patriotic and Public Spirited” is a collaborative effort between Alexandria Archaeology and The Lyceum and was adapted from Barbara H. Magid’s article “Commemorative Wares in George Washington’s Hometown,” which appeared in the 2006 Ceramics in America. An archaeologist and ceramics expert, Magid retired from the City of Alexandria in 2010 after 30 years of service with Alexandria Archaeology.
The Lyceum, Alexandria’s History Museum, is located at 201 South Washington Street in Old Town Alexandria and is open Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Suggested admission is $2, and free off-street parking is available.
For more information, please call 703.746.4994 or visit www.alexandriahistory.org.
Photo credit: Peace and Plenty pitcher, England, ca. 1815, “Cameo jasper” refined stoneware. Photo by Gavin Ashworth, courtesy “Ceramics in America.”