Skip to main content

The Roman Charity: C.970-1928

An image of Figure group

Terms of use

These images are provided for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons License (BY-NC-ND). To license a high resolution version, please contact our image library who will discuss fees, terms and waivers.

Download this image

Creative commons explained - what it means, how you can use our's and other people's content.

Alternative views

Object information

Current Location: In storage


The Roman Charity


Unidentified Pottery




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

Group representing a girl feeding a prisoner from her breast. The man is naked except for a blue and yellow loin-cloth, his ankles and wrists shackled; he sits on a rocky green brown and grey mound in front of a double-turreted building flanked by trees. The woman, much smaller, wears a red dress with a flower pattern and her grey hair in a top-knot. The base is oblong, with four feet, painted to match the mound above and inscribed ‘GRECIAN &’,
‘DAUGHTER’, impressed into two almond-shaped, applied labels. The building turrets form a double spill-vase. The back is almost flat, though the turrets are described, and painted. The underside of the base is recessed and flat.


History note: Bought from Mr Stoner, London, on February 21, 1912, with another figure group, for £9.10s (nine pounds ten shillings) the two, by Dr Glaisher, FRS, Trinity College, Cambridge

Legal notes

Dr J. W. L. Glaisher Bequest

Measurements and weight

Height: 24.5 cm
Width: 18 cm

Relative size of this object

18 cm24.5 cm What does this represent?

Relative size of this object is displayed using code inspired by Good Form and Spectacle's work on the British Museum's Waddeson Bequest website and their dimension drawer. They chose a tennis ball to represent a universally sized object, from which you could envisage the size of an object.

Acquisition and important dates

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


First half of 19th Century
Circa 1825 - Circa 1835


Earthenware figure groups were popular from around 1810, although the earliest examples date from nearly a century earlier. A cheaper alternative to porcelain figures, they were often produced by small potteries; very few are marked. Classical or literary subjects were frequently copied from porcelain examples, but potters increasingly turned to scenes from everyday life and topical events. These early figure groups are often complex, including modelled and moulded parts and applied decoration; the backs, though flat, are decorated; bocage (stylised foliage) is common on groups from c.1810-20. However, as demand increased, processes were streamlined to allow mass production and by c.1835 the earlier, relatively costly, methods had largely given way to three-part press-moulding.

Table groups, standing on four or six short legs, were made from c.1825-35; they have similar features, so were probably made by just a few makers. They have in the past been attributed to Obadaiah Sherratt of Burlem, but without clear evidence; they were probably made by a number of figure makers.

The Roman Charity story, of Pero who secretly breastfeeds her imprisoned father, Cimon, is recorded in ancient history and represents both. The scene, which echoes the myth of Juno feeding of the adult Hercules, was depicted by Rubens, Caravaggio and later artists. It symbolises honour and filial piety.

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of lead-glaze enamel

Materials used in production


Inscription or legends present

  • Text: ‘GRECIAN &’,‘DAUGHTER’
  • Location: On front of base
  • Method of creation: Impressed into two almond-shaped, applied labels
  • Type: Label

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.970-1928
Primary reference Number: 76472
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 15 July 2020 Last processed: Tuesday 28 March 2023

Associated departments & institutions

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

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2023) "The Roman Charity" Web page available at: Accessed: 2023-04-01 15:53:59

Citation for Wikipedia

To cite this record on Wikipedia you can use this code snippet:

{{cite web|url= |title=The Roman Charity |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2023-04-01 15:53:59|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

API call for this record

To call these data via our API (remember this needs to be authenticated) you can use this code snippet:

Bootstrap HTML code for reuse

To use this as a simple code embed, copy this string:

<div class="text-center">
    <figure class="figure">
        <img src=""
        alt="The Roman Charity"
        class="img-fluid" />
        <figcaption class="figure-caption text-info">The Roman Charity</figcaption>

Please enter your name as you would like to be addressed
Please enter your email address
The object accession number - this is prefilled
Please enter your query with as much detail as possible

More objects and works of art you might like


Accession Number: MAR.M.39-1912


Accession Number: 2795


Accession Number: 2146

Faith, Hope and Charity

Accession Number: 1098

Suggested products from Curating Cambridge

You might be interested in this...

Sign up for updates

Updates about future exhibitions and displays, family activities, virtual events & news. You'll be the first to know...