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Courtship: C.959-1928

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Object information

Current Location: In storage




Production: Unidentified factory
John Walton (Possibly)




Earthenware figure group, moulded and modelled, pearlware glazed and painted with polychrome enamels.

Earthenware group of a dandy and his lady walking arm in arm. The lady carries a yellow bag in her right hand and the man a yellow basket containing flowers in his left. She wears a yellow poke bonnet and an purple and turquoise dress, with a floral underskirt. Her bonnet is edged in blue and has blue and white feathers at the front. The gentleman has a brown hat, which has a wide flat crown and a yellow band. He wears a brown coat over a frilled shirt with stock and high collar, and mustard coloured trousers. Both figures wear black shoes decorated with yellow rosettes. They stand on a mounded base which is decorated at the front with moulded scrollwork outlined in blue; behind them is a low stylised tree or bush, which forms the back of the base. The back is fully decorated. The underside is open and glazed into the hollow interior.


History note: Captain Reynolds Collection, London, sold to Messrs Gill and Reigate. Bought by Mr Stoner, London, from whom purchased in 1910 by Dr J.W.L. Glaisher, Trinity College, Cambridge. Dr Glaisher paid £125 for this and fourteen other pieces, as part of a purchase of 35 figures and figure groups.

Legal notes

Dr. J.W.L. Glaisher Bequest, 1928

Measurements and weight

Depth: 8 cm
Height: 17.8 cm
Width: 10.7 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Burslem ⪼ Staffordshire ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1928-12-07) by Glaisher, J. W. L., Dr


19th Century, Early#
Production date: circa AD 1825


Earthenware figure groups were popular from around 1810, although the earliest examples date from nearly a century before. A cheaper alternative to porcelain figures, they were generally produced by small potteries and very few are marked. Classical or literary subjects might be copied from porcelain examples, but scenes from everyday life and topical events became increasingly popular. These early figure groups are often complex, with modelled and moulded parts and applied decoration; the backs, though flattened, are decorated. As demand increased, processes were simplified to allow cheaper mass production and by the mid 1830s the earlier methods had largely given way to three-part press-moulding.

Several features suggest this group might have been made by John Walton of Burslem, as mooted by Bernard Rackham in 1935. Walton, who was listed as a potter in local directories between 1818-1835, was known for his contemporary figures and there are marked examples with similar oak leaf bocage which have mounded bases with blue-edged scrollwork. However, as this piece is unmarked and designs were frequently copies between potteries, such attribution can only be tentative.

This fashionably dressed couple’s linked arms suggest they are courting. As Dr Glaisher's notes say, such groups are particularly interesting because they show contemporary costume.

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of lead-glaze ( blue-tinged) enamels

Materials used in production

white Earthenware

Techniques used in production

Moulding : Earthenware, moulded and modelled, lead glazed and painted with enamels.

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.959-1928
Primary reference Number: 76451
Old object number: 3209
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Thursday 15 June 2023 Last processed: Thursday 7 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

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

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Courtship" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-06-20 04:38:05

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{{cite web|url= |title=Courtship |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-06-20 04:38:05|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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