Patrick Caulfield

Brown Jug


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Patrick Caulfield 1936–2005
Screenprint on paper
Image: 769 × 571 mm
Purchased 1999


Brown Jug is a screenprint featuring a stylised image of a jug set against a blue background. A thick black line denotes the jug’s outline, including its rounded sides, its tapering lower end and an opening and lip at the top. The handle is represented by a black form emerging from the top-left of the jug. The bottom of the vessel is mostly brown in tone, but above this the majority of the object is depicted in pink. A curved triangular area of paler pink towards the top-right seems to suggest a small shaft of light, while a similarly shaped black form near the object’s top-left may represent a shadow. Along the inner edge of the black outline along the left and top parts of the jug is a strip of the same blue colour that comprises the work’s background. While at the top of the jug this hue seems to denote the object’s interior, at its left side the same colour might perhaps be taken to suggest a reflection running down its edge. The image is surrounded by a thin, pale grey border, and inscribed in pencil in the bottom-right of this border is the artist’s signature and the numbers 71/80, indicating that the print is number seventy-one in an edition of eighty. The work also features two stamps, reading ‘WG’ and ‘K’, and these reflect the fact that the edition was printed by Kelpra Studio (‘K’), a fine art print workshop in London, and published by Waddington Graphics (‘WG’), also in London.

Brown Jug was designed by the British artist Patrick Caulfield in London in 1981. As with all of his prints, Caulfield initially composed the work in the form of an acrylic painting. It was printed at Kelpra Studio in 1982 on white, heavy-weight, machine-woven paper using serigraph inks, which may have been oil-based. Colour was applied at a uniform thickness across the composition. The work is float-mounted on museum board using paper hinges, and has been framed for display by Tate.

The critic Mel Gooding has written that the ‘simple, schematic and direct’ style of Caulfield’s prints from the early 1980s represented a shift from the highly complex compositions in his prints and paintings of the mid- to late 1970s (such as Still Life Ingredients 1976, Estate of Patrick Caulfield, London; Caulfield and Gooding 1998, p.14). Brown Jug is one of a group of four screenprints made by Caulfield in 1981–2, all of which depict jugs in the same stylised manner (see also Pink Jug 1981–2, Tate P78305; Water Jug 1981–2, Tate P78306; and Pitcher 1981–2, Tate P78308). While its title seems to imply that the depicted jug is wholly or mostly brown, this is not suggested by the image, which shows one brown area on a predominantly pink object. This discrepancy appears in many of the prints Caulfield made from 1974 onwards (see also Lung Ch’uan Ware and Black Lamp 1990, Tate P79194), and the effect has been discussed by Gooding as follows:

colour bleeds from the surround into the image, a cubist-derived device that Caulfield has continued to use ... to demonstrate the fictitious nature of the printed image, and to show that a single undifferentiated colour may simultaneously serve both decorative and descriptive purposes, can at once magically define image and ground, create the illusion of both a form and of a circumambient fictive space, and assert the objective actuality of the printed plane.
(Mel Gooding, ‘Patrick Caulfield: The Complete Prints’, in Caulfield and Gooding 1998, p.13.)

In Brown Jug this uncertainty is exacerbated by the ambiguous status of several areas in the print, which could equally depict effects of the light, denote the actual hue of the object or simply represent an arbitrary or decorative use of colour.

Caulfield made many prints from 1964 onwards, often collaborating with printers at Kelpra Studio. In 1998 he stated that because his painting process was very ‘slow’, generally resulting in only two or three works produced per year, printing became important for him because it enabled the speedy ‘multiplication’ and dissemination of many works (Caulfield in Caulfield and Robertson, ‘Patrick Caulfield: A Dialogue with Bryan Robertson’, in Hayward Gallery 1999, p.31). Despite this, he also stated in the same interview that ‘I don’t think of a print as very different to a painting, because I make a painting for each print ... I’m not really a printmaker at all. I provide an image and then it’s printed by professional printers’ (Caulfield in Caulfield and Robertson 1999, p.31).

Further reading
Patrick Caulfield and Mel Gooding, Patrick Caulfield: The Complete Prints, 1964–1998, London 1998, p.92, reproduced pp.64, 92.
Patrick Caulfield, exhibition catalogue, Hayward Gallery, London 1999.
Clarrie Wallis, Patrick Caulfield, London 2013.

David Hodge
October 2015

Supported by Christie’s.

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Display caption

Caulfield's simplified, deliberately cartoon-like style makes no claims to a 'realistic' depiction of objects. Instead, through his work, Caulfied invites us to consider the nature of representation. The 'Jugs' have been radically reduced to a simple black outline, with planes of colour to represent light and shading, and yet they remain distinctly recognisable.

Gallery label, August 2004

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