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The Indiscreet Harlequin: C.80-1950

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 26 (Lower Marlay)


The Indiscreet Harlequin


Factory: Bow Porcelain Manufactory
Modeller: Kändler, Johann Joachim (After)




Soft-paste porcelain containing bone ash, press-moulded, and painted overglaze in polychrome enamels, and gilt.

Soft-paste porcelain containing bone ash (presumed), press-moulded, and painted over lead-glaze in blue, green, yellow, a little flesh-pink, red, pale greyish-brown, pale brown, dark brown, and black enamels, and gilt. The three-sided base is closed underneath and has a concave area at the front, and a large circular ventilation hole further back. The interior of the group and the central area of the base are glazed. Beltrame sits on a large green and brown mound with Columbine seated on his left knee. His right foot rests on Harlequin who reclines on the ground in front of them, lasciviously lifting Columbine's skirt a little with his left hand and peering beneath it.
Beltrame wears a black hat, a white shirt with a ruff; a white jacket with red and white striped sleeves, and gold trimming round the armholes and waist; breeches with red and white stripes at the top and yellow fabric at the bottom and a gold rosette at the knee; and black shoes with gold bows. Columbine wears a small yellow tricorn hat, a green bodice with blue lacing over a white stomacher, a flowered skirt, and yellow high-heeled shoes with white bows. Harle-quin has a long-sleeved, pale greyish-brown jacket with red collar and cuffs, and four gold flower-shaped buttons down the front; breeches with a red trellis diaper pattern; blue stockings, and black shoes with a red rosette on top.
The top of the base is green with applied green leaves, and flowers: a white, a yellow, a blue and three red and white.


History note: Unknown before donor, Mrs W.D. (Frances Louisa) Dickson, Bournemouth

Legal notes

Given by Mrs W.D. Dickson

Measurements and weight

Height: 19.5 cm
Width: 17.9 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Stratford-le-Bow ⪼ Essex ⪼ England
  • Meissen ⪼ Saxony ⪼ Germany

Acquisition and important dates

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


18th Century, Mid#
George II
Circa 1753 CE - 1755 CE


From about 1750 Meissen figures were to be seen in London; and during the next few years porcelain table decorations became a feature of desserts at fashionable entertainments. The copis and adaptations wee mainly of single figures or pairs. Groups were attempted infrequently, probably because fewer seem to have been imported, and because they posed greater technical problems for inexperienced English modellers. The 'Indiscreet Harlequin' was based on a Meissen group (model number 344) modelled by J.J. Kaendler, about 1742, but not mentioned in his Taxa or work notes. Like many of his groups, it displays a sly sense of humour, rarely found in English groups. The Bow group differs from the Meissen model in minor details, such as the shape of the lover's hat. The pose of Columbine may have been inspired by an engraving of Columbine and Harlequin from Les Amours de Columbine by Petrus Schenck after drawings by Gérard-Joseph Xavery, and Harlequin's pose by that in Harlequin and the Blind Beggar, plate 32 of Gregorio Lambranzi, New and Eccentric School of Theatrical Dancing, 1716. See Documention, Chilton, 2001.

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of enamels ( blue, green, yellow, a little flesh-pink, red, pale greyish-brown, pale brown, dark brown, and black) lead-glaze ( presumed lead) gold

Materials used in production

presumed phosphatic, containg bone ash Soft-paste porcelain

Techniques used in production

Press-moulding : Soft-paste porcelain containing bone ash, press-moulded, and painted overglaze in polychrome enamels, and gilt
Glazing (coating)

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: circular printed in black 'ENGLISH.CERAMIC.CIRCLE 1948' surrounding 'No.' and in black ink '166'

  • Text: ENGLISH.CERAMIC.CIRCLE 1948 No. 166
  • Method of creation: Printed in black
  • Type: Label

Inscription present: rectangular strip

  • Method of creation: Inscribed
  • Type: Label

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.80-1950
Primary reference Number: 42132
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 18 December 2023 Last processed: Monday 18 December 2023

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) "The Indiscreet Harlequin" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-04-22 13:22:38

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