Gladys Reynell
Emu beaker

About this work of art

Audio description of the work of art

This earthernware beaker by Australian artist Gladys Reynell, was made in London in 1917.

The beaker is a 10cm high cup with no handle. It is 8.7cm in diameter at the lip, tapering down to a base that is slightly narrower. Made of clay, the inside of the beaker is earth brown.

A shallowly carved pattern on the outside surface of the beaker depicts four adult emus in side-profile. Known as sgraffito, the areas that have not been carved are the same brown colour as the inside of the beaker, and the carved area, which forms the background of the design is white.

A horizontal line encircles the beaker two centimetres below the lip. A second wider irregularly edged line encircles the base, this is the grass upon which the emus stand.

Emus are soft-feathered, brown, flightless Australian birds with rounded bodies and long legs. Reaching almost two metres in height and similar to an ostrich, they have small heads with pointed triangular beaks and large eyes atop long narrow necks.

The emus are depicted in different poses facing either left or right. Three emus stand with their heads above the horizontal line. The fourth emu leans down with its chest lowered, but its head turned upwards.

The emus are in silhouette, for there are no additional details such as feathers or eyes.

Irregular diagonal lines appear above and below the horizontal line, like tree-branches around the heads of the emus. Between two of the standing emus, the lines fan out like the leaves of a fern.

The branch-like lines also parallel the curved back of one emu like an archway. Above this emu, between the lip and the horizontal line, the year the beaker was made has been carved, 1917.