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Pompeii Fisherman Seated: M.20-1951

Object information

Current Location: In storage


Pompeii Fisherman Seated
Seated Youth


Unknown (Uncertain)




Bronze, cast. Helmeted youth seated on a tree-trunk, with his feet off the ground, both arms slightly raised. Between his legs, what appears to be a shield hangs from a protruding limb of the tree-trunk. He is dressed in a short tunic, corded at the waist and fastened with a clasp on the left shoulder, leaving his arms, legs, right shoulder and chest bare.

This is a reduced-scale replica of a 54-cm-high ancient Roman bronze fountain spout in the form of a fisherman, wearing a short toga fastened at the left shoulder and a helmet, seated on a tree stump strewn with shells at its base. Between his splayed legs is a protruding stump capped with a grotesque mask, from whose wide open mouth water would spout. The fisherman originally held a rod in his extended right hand, and a small basket, in his left.

The original bronze statuette is believed to date from 50 BCE-50CE. Now in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples; inv. 4994), it was found in the garden of an elegant 1st-century BCE villa, called the House of the Small Fountain (VI.8.23), on the Via di Mercurio, at the western end of Pompei, during excavations, started in 1823 and completed in 1826–27. In the villa’s garden is a peristyle with an arched and pedimented fountain decorated with frescoes, mosaics, shells and two bronze statuettes acting as decorative spouts on either side of the marble fountain basin: the fisherman was on the right side, and a sleeping putto was on the left.

Given that The House of the Small Fountain was not excavated until 1826–27, this reproduction cannot have been made until the later 1820s at the earliest. From the later 19th century, the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples became a public institution and began to dispense permits to mould and copy antiquities in its collection. Like many of the bronze statues found at Pompeii, this fisherman became popular with tourists, and several Italian fine art foundries made high quality replicas, at full-scale and in several reduced-scale sizes.

The Naples foundry of Sabatino de Angelis (founded 1840) specialised in reproducing such antiquities, and included this figure in its catalogue of 1900 (p. 47). The de Angelis foundry reproduced the Pompeii fisherman in three different sizes: 1) full-scale (54cm); 2) mid-scale (31 cm) and 3) small (24 cm), and offered in the company’s three different finishes (patinas), ‘Pompei’ (most expensive), ‘Herculaneum’ (mid-range), and ‘Modern’ (cheapest). The Clifton Park Museum, Rotherham, South Yorkshire, owns a full-scale version (ROTMG:S.1989.57) with an ‘antique’ patina. Since it is recorded as having been ‘purchased in Naples, in 1898’, it may well have been made by in the Sabatino de Angelis foundry. Given that the height of the Fitzwilliam Museum’s version matches that of the smallest of the three replicas made by Sabatino de Angelis, it may have been produced there, likely in the late 19th or early 20th century.

Legal notes

Given by the Hon. Mrs Nellie Ionides

Measurements and weight

Height: 9 in

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (1951) by Ionides, Nellie, The Hon. Mrs


Early 17th Century
Production date: circa AD 1600 : Cast at an unknown date, possibly early 17th century.


North Italian?

Possibly a reproduction

People, subjects and objects depicted


  • Sculpture UK

Components of the work

Sculpture Depth 14.5 cm Height 23 cm Width 17 cm

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Casting (process)

Identification numbers

Accession number: M.20-1951
Primary reference Number: 13925
Web ID: seated-fisherman-267307
External ID: CAM_CCF_M_20_1951
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Thursday 11 June 2020 Last processed: Sunday 21 March 2021

Associated departments & institutions

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

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2022) "Pompeii Fisherman Seated" Web page available at: Accessed: 2022-12-03 20:36:47

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