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Dr Syntax Sketching: C.3066-1928

Object information

Current Location: In storage


Dr Syntax Sketching


Factory: Derby Porcelain Factory, King Street
Factory: Stevenson and Hancock
Modeller: Keys, Edward




Bone china, slip-cast, and glazed.

Bone china, slip-cast, and clear-glazed. The underside is unglazed and has a large oval ventilation hole in the centre. The oval low mound base has a barrel at the back with applied flowers and leaves on the ground on either side of it, and further forward, three clumps of ‘moss’. Dr Syntax sits on the barrel sketching in a book which rests on his knees. He wears a tricorn hat, a bow round his neck, a buttoned up jacket, breeches and shoes. In front of him, facting towards the viewer are two seated ducks or geese.


History note: Purchased from Mrs E. Spencer, 'Old Village Museum', Shanklin, Isle of Wight, on 21 September 1922 for 10s.

Legal notes

Dr J.W.L. Glaisher Bequest

Measurements and weight

Height: 13 cm
Width: 6.8 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Derby ⪼ Derbyshire ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

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


19th Century, third quarter#
Circa 1865 CE - 1870 CE


Haslem (1876) attributed the modelling of this figure to Edward Keys, describing it as 'Dr Syntax Drawing' in his Price List of Groups and Single Figures made at the old Derby factory.

This model was derived from an illustration by Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827) in 'The Tour of Dr Syntax in Search of the Picturesque' (1812), the first of a trilogy about the exploits of Syntax, a schoolmaster and curate. The other volumes were 'The Tour of Dr Syntax in Search of Consolation' (1820), and 'The Tour of Dr Syntax in search of a Wife' (1821). The character, Dr Syntax, had been created by William Gilpin (1724-1804) but did not become well-known until the publication of a narrative poem by William Combe (1741-1823) which appeared in Ackerman's 'Poetical Magazine' during 1809. The series of Derby figures appeared before 1830, and were re-issued by Stevenson and Hancock after 1848. Dr Syntax Sketching was changed to include the two ducks or geese.

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Front To Back Depth 10.5 cm

Materials used in production

Bone china

Techniques used in production

Slip-casting : Bone china, slip-cast and glazed

Inscription or legends present

  • Text: crossed swords flanked by three dots, with a crown above and 'D' below flanked by 'S' and 'H'
  • Location: On underside of top of base
  • Method of creation: Painted underglaze in blue
  • Type: Factory mark

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.3066-1928
Primary reference Number: 43369
Old object number: 3952
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Tuesday 25 August 2015 Last processed: Thursday 7 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) "Dr Syntax Sketching" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-04-23 10:08:19

Citation for Wikipedia

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{{cite web|url= |title=Dr Syntax Sketching |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-04-23 10:08:19|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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