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Alexander Maclean caricature: C.5E-1949

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Object information

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Alexander Maclean caricature


Decorator: Barnard, Frederick




Square, white earthenware tile with over-glaze image painted in brown enamel.

An elegant man, with wavy hair and a beard, stands in front of a lamppost smoking a cigarette in a holder. He wears a brown housecoat over shirt and trousers. A heart on his chest, surrounded by shining rays, is pierced by six arrows, one for each of six ladies whose heads float, phantom-like, on either side of his. To his left is his palette, with brushes, inscribed with his initials ‘A.McL’. Filling the space on the lower part of the tile are luxury items, each labelled above with an inscribed quality brand name: champagne (POMMERY GRENO !); a box labelled ‘cigars’ (ELYSIUM); a perfume bottle (PIESSE & LUBIN); a top hat (LINCOLN & BENNETT !); trouser braces (POOLE); shoes (KING & ARCHER); and a glove (DENT). At right is inscribed ‘’&cc—ccc ccc’. The tile is industrially produced from pressed dust; on the reverse is an impressed diamond pattern. It is fixed in a (later) wooden frame and stand.


History note: Bequeathed by Miss Dorothy Barnard, the artist’s daughter

Legal notes

Bequeathed by Miss Dorothy Barnard, the artist’s daughter

Measurements and weight

Height: 15.2 cm
Width: 15.2 cm

Place(s) associated

  • London ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1949) by Barnard, Dorothy


19th Century, Late#
Production date: circa AD 1880


Fred(erick) Barnard (1846-96), the son of a silversmith, was an illustrator, caricaturist, genre painter and portraitist. After training in Paris, he contributed to journals, such as 'Punch', ‘Harper’s Weekly’ and the 'Illustrated London News' and became known as an illustrator of Dickens and Bunyan. He also showed large-scale canvasses at the Royal Academy which commented on urban social conditions; a reviewer greeted his ‘Saturday Night in the East End’, 1876, as amongst ‘the most remarkable illustrations of London low-life […] full of grime and flare, and of human uncouthness’. He settled for a time in Broadway, Gloucestershire, where John Singer Sargent painted his wife Alice Faraday (‘Mrs Frederick Barnard’, 1885), and his two daughters Polly and Dorothy (‘Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose’, 1885-86) [Tate, nos. N05901 and N01615] , and his neighbours included Henry James and Edmund Gosse, the latter recording him wearing an ‘enormous stage slouch hat’. The Fitzwilliam Museum also holds a portrait of Dorothy Barnard, the donor, painted by Sargent in 1889.

One of a series of seven tiles, each depicting a fellow contemporary artist. This design is a caricature of the portrait painter Alexander Maclean (1840-1877). The son of a Glasgow manufacturer, Maclean exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1872, but died just five years later. The image suggest he was something of a playboy, attracting young ladies with his fine clothing and taste for luxury. A label attached to the tile on acquisition suggests the ladies included Maud Branscombe, an actress and much photographed beauty.

School or Style

Arts and Crafts (movement)

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of enamel clear glaze

Materials used in production

White earthenware

Techniques used in production

Dust pressing : White earthenware, painted overglaze with brown enamel

Inscription or legends present

  • Location: On back of tile
  • Method of creation: Inscribed
  • Type: Label

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.5E-1949
Primary reference Number: 15295
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 15 July 2020 Last processed: Tuesday 5 March 2024

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) "Alexander Maclean caricature" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-04-23 18:47:05

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{{cite web|url= |title=Alexander Maclean caricature |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-04-23 18:47:05|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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