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William Shakespeare (1564-1616): C.107-1932

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


William Shakespeare (1564-1616)


Factory: Derby Porcelain Factory




Biscuit porcelain figure of William Shakespeare after the monument in Westminster Abbey

Biscuit porcelain figure of William Shakespeare, slip-cast with applied details. The underside has a bevelled circular ventilation hole in the centre. The shallow rectangular base has cut corners, and vertically ribbed sides. The poet stands on the viewer's right with his right leg crossed over his left, leaning on his right elbow on a pile of three books resting on top of a three-sided pedestal. He is bearded, and wears a close-fitting buttoned jacket, breeches, a cloak and shoes with ties on top. The pedestal is decorated on the angles with heads of Henry V, Richard III, and Queen Elizabeth with volutes below. Hanging down from below the pile of books is a scroll inscribed in black with a quotation from one of Prospero's speeches from the Tempest, Act IV, Scene I:
"The cloud capped towers
the gorgeous palaces.
The solemn temples
the great globe itself
yea all which it inherits
Shall dissolve;
and like the baseless
fabric of a vision
Leave not a wrack


History note: Uncertain before Mrs W.D. (Frances Louisa) Dickson, Bournemouth

Legal notes

Given by Mrs W.D. Dickson

Measurements and weight

Height: 17.5 cm
Width: 10.2 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Derby ⪼ Derbyshire ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (1932) by Dickson, W. D. (Frances Louisa), Mrs


18th Century, Late
George III
Circa 1780 CE - 1800 CE


Shakespeare was produced in three versions at Derby: in the late 1750s in enamelled porcelain on a low scrolled base; and later in enamelled porcelain on a rectangular base with vertical ribbing. It was also produced in biscuit porcelain from about 1770-1. The model was derived from the monument in Westminster Abbey, designed by William Kent (1685-1748) and executed in marble by Peter Scheemakers (1681-1761) in 1740. Its direct source was probably a reduced-size plaster. such as one of those stocked by John Cheere in London. It was often sold as a pair with Milton, see C.108-1932.

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work


Materials used in production

biscuit Soft-paste porcelain

Techniques used in production

Slip-casting : Biscuit porcelain, slip-cast, with applied details

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: N 305 is above the ventilation hole and small below and to the right of it

  • Text: 'N 305' and 'Small'
  • Location: On underside of base
  • Method of creation: Incised
  • Type: Mark
  • Text: The cloud capped towers the gorgeous palaces. The solemn temples the great globe itself yea all which it inherits Shall dissolve; and like the baseless fabric of a vision Leave not a wrack behind
  • Location: On scroll
  • Method of creation: Hand-written or painted in black
  • Type: Inscription

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.107-1932
Primary reference Number: 71267
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 18 December 2023 Last processed: Monday 18 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "William Shakespeare (1564-1616)" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-02-29 15:03:13

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