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Mermaid supporting a Shell Dish: C.78-1950

Object information

Current Location: Gallery 26 (Lower Marlay)


Mermaid supporting a Shell Dish


Doccia Porcelain Factory (Factory)


Hard-paste porcelain painted in enamels

Hard-paste porcelain, moulded, tin-glazed, and painted in blue, green, yellow, puce, reddish-brown, brown, and a little dark brown enamels; the underside has a small circular ventilation hole. The mermaid is supported on a rectangular base with rounded corners and a scrolled edge painted blue and puce. Her front half is sphinx like, and she has long brown hair, dark brown eyes and pale red lips, two green fins on her back, and a green-edged tail which curves upwards to support a shell dish,which is also supported by her backward tilting head. The shell is outlined in puce and blue and has a green leaf at the hinge end. The interior is striped horizontally in puce, yellow and reddish-brown.


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

Legal notes

Given by Mrs W.D. Dickson

Measurements and weight

Height: 7.6 cm
Height: 3 in
Width: 8.5 cm
Width: 3 5/16 in

Relative size of this object

8.5 cm3 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.

Place(s) associated

  • Doccia ⪼ Tuscany ⪼ Italy

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (1950-09) by Dickson, W. D. (Frances Louisa), Mrs


Third quarter of 18th century
Circa 1760 CE - 1770 CE


Shell dishes supported by marine monsters may have been used as salts, and were associated with centrepieces. There are two comparable examples in the Victoria and Albert Museum (C.31-1910 and C.32-1910). This type of ornamental tableware was attributed to Capodimonte in the 19th and early 20th century.

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of enamels ( blue, green, yellow, puce, reddish-brown, and dark brown)

Materials used in production

Hard-paste porcelain Tin-glaze

Techniques used in production

Press-moulding : Hard-paste porcelain, moulded in parts, glazed, and painted in blue, green, yellow, puce, reddish-brown, and dark brown enamels

Inscription or legends present

  • Text: 6.
  • Location: On base
  • Method of creation: Painted in pale purple enamel
  • Type: Mark

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.78-1950
Primary reference Number: 140364
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 19 October 2016 Last processed: Sunday 21 March 2021

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 (2022) "Mermaid supporting a Shell Dish" Web page available at: Accessed: 2022-08-18 06:29:22

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