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Marriage at Gretna Green: C.963B-1928

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Marriage at Gretna Green


Production: Unidentified Pottery




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

Figure group of a marriage ceremony. A blacksmith, holding his hands together raised in prayer above a book which lies open on an anvil; the anvil and his hammers sit on top of a grey stump. Opposite him stand a finely dressed young couple, he in yellow breeches and a blue coat, she in a pink dress over a flowered skirt and wearing a feathered hat. A discarded basket lies in the centre.

The scene is set against two trees flanking a twin-turreted castle; the figures stand on a flowered, grassy mound; grey steps run up from the centre front and round the castle. It sits on a four-legged table base, painted brown, with a green top, and decorated with polychrome swags and a small brown moulded dog centre front. The back is painted, it is almost flat but with the backs of the turrets and steps moulded in. The underside of the base is recessed and flat.


History note: Captain Reynolds Collection, London; sold to Messrs Gill and Reigate; 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

Measurements and weight

Height: 21.2 cm
Width: 26.6 cm

Acquisition and important dates

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


19th Century, first half#
Circa 1825 CE - Circa 1835 CE


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; similar features suggest they were made by just a few makers. They have in the past been attributed to Obadaiah Sherratt of Burslem, but without clear evidence; they were probably made by a number of figure makers. However, similarities in the shape and colouring of this table base, the moulded dog ‘mark’ on the front and the bocage suggest this table base group was made by the same potter as two others in the Fitzwilliam Collection.

This is one of a pair of closely related figure groups, representing a marriage at Gretna Green and a christening; both are represented in the collection. Both scenes were also made, with similar composition, by other potters. But as Dr Glaisher notes, here: ‘the modelling is very good, and the colours are peculiarly good and brilliant, and the details are carefully attended to’. The hollow turrets are designed to hold spills, used to light the fire.

Components of the work

Decoration composed of enamels lead-glaze

Materials used in production

White earthenware

Techniques used in production

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

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.963B-1928
Primary reference Number: 206967
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Tuesday 17 November 2015 Updated: Wednesday 15 July 2020 Last processed: Wednesday 13 December 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 (2024) "Marriage at Gretna Green" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-07-22 12:12:14

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{{cite web|url= |title=Marriage at Gretna Green |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-07-22 12:12:14|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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