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Hercules and Omphale: EC.22-1941

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 26 (Lower Marlay)


Hercules and Omphale


Factory: St James's Workshop (Probably)
Maker: Gouyn, Charles (Probably)




Soft-paste porcelain figure group of Hercules and Omphale.

Soft-paste porcelain figure group of Hercules and Omphale. The figures are placed on a low, uneven square base, angled with one corner towards the viewer. Hercules is seated on a rock, his right leg forward with the foot on the front corner of the base, and his left leg back with the foot on the proper right corner of the base. His right arm rests across his thighs.Omphale stands on his left. Her right foot is crossed in front of her left, and she leans on his club, and bends towards him, her right arm round his neck and shoulders.


History note: Dr Bellamy Gardner; sold Sotheby's, 12 June 1941, Catalogue of the Celebrated Collection of Chelsea Porcelain, English Ceramics and Enamels, the property of Dr and Mrs Bellamy Gardner, p. 6, lot 10.

Legal notes

Given by the National Art Collections Fund as trustee of the R. S. Cochrane Fund.

Measurements and weight

Height: 23.8 cm
Width: 15.5 cm

Relative size of this object

15.5 cm23.8 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

  • London ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (1941-06-12) by National Art Collections Fund


Mid 18th Century
George II
Circa 1749 CE - 1759 CE


Hercules and Omphale belong to a group of about thirty soft-paste porcelain figures described as 'Girl-in-a-Swing' after the subject of one of the models. Girl-in-the-Swing figures were formerly attributed to Chelsea. Documentary evidence found in France (see Documentation, Dragesco, 1993), suggests strongly that they were made by Charles Gouyn, whose address was at the Turk's Head, Bennet Street, St James's, London, from 1735 to 1783. It is not known conclusively that this was where the figure's were made.

This group is an illustration of French influence on English porcelain. The figures were probably derived from an engraving of Hercules and Omphale by Laurent Cars, announced in 1728, after the painting of 1724 by François Lemoyne, now in the Louvre, Paris. In the print Hercules holds a distaff in his right hand, while in the porcelain group, his arm is resting across his knees, a position less likely to cause problems during firing. Alternatively the group might have been based on a Vincennes model listed in an inventory of October 1752. Two different versions of the Vincennes model have been recorded. One is closely related to the painting, and could have been the inspiration for the English group. The other is a different composition in which Omphale sits beside Hercules with Cupid beside her.

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted

Materials used in production

probably lead Lead-glaze
Soft-paste porcelain

Techniques used in production

Moulding : Greyish-white soft-paste porcelain, moulded, and glazed
Glazing (coating)

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: EC.22-1941
Primary reference Number: 48026
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Friday 11 November 2022 Last processed: Friday 11 November 2022

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2023) "Hercules and Omphale" Web page available at: Accessed: 2023-05-28 05:23:20

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{{cite web|url= |title=Hercules and Omphale |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2023-05-28 05:23:20|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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