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Girl kneeling in prayer: C.1021-1928

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Girl kneeling in prayer
Mary Magdalene


Production: Unidentified factory




White earthenware figure moulded in three parts and pearlware glazed. Painted with brown, red and flesh-pink enamels, and gilt.

The girl kneels on her right knee, on a cushion; she gazes upwards with pious expression and her hands are raised in prayer, The figure is mainly white, with features picked out in enamels and gilt. Her lower body is draped in a wrap, which winds over her right arm, leaving her breasts exposed. Her brown hair falls just over her shoulders. The cushion is decorated to the front with a gold cord fixed by three tasselled rosettes. The rectangular base is encircled by a thick gilt line. The underside is concave and glazed. The back is moulded, with a vent hole 7cm from the bottom.


History note: Maggs, High Street, Falmouth . Bought on 1 January 1915, for 10/- (ten shillings), by Dr Glaisher, Trinity College, Cambridge.

Legal notes

Dr G.W.L.Glaisher Bequest

Measurements and weight

Depth: 9.7 cm
Depth: 3.75 in
Height: 26 cm
Height: 10.25 in
Width: 14.6 cm
Width: 5.5 in

Relative size of this object

14.6 cm10.3 cm9.7 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.

Acquisition and important dates

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


Mid 19th century
Circa 1840 CE - Circa 1865 CE


Rackham (1935) suggests that this is perhaps Mary Magdalene. However, Dr Glaisher lists it simply as ‘Staffordshire figure of a girl on one knee praying, with her hands together in prayer’ and this also seems to be the opinion of others. Pugh (1970) suggests that the figure may be theatrical.

There were many manufacturers of figures working in Staffordshire at this time. Rackham (1935) lists this figure as of a type made chiefly by Sampson Smith at Longton, a factory listed in contemporary directories as a ‘manufacturer of figures in great variety’, which began around 1851 and continued to make figures in quantity into the early part of the twentieth century. However, there is little evidence for this attribution. Sampson Smith figures typically have a flat back and plain oval base, and the modelling of the figure suggests it might have been made before the factory opened.

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of enamels ( brown, red and flesh-pink) gold

Materials used in production

White earthenware

Techniques used in production

Press-moulding : White earthenware moulded in three parts and pearlware glazed. Painted with brown, red and flesh-pink enamels, and gilt. The underside is concave and glazed. The back is moulded, with a vent hole 7cm from the bottom.

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: Rectangular paper label, handwritten in black script

  • Text: No.4104. Staffordshire figure of a girl on one knee praying - b in Falmouth 1915.
  • Location: Underside of base
  • Method of creation: Handwritten in black script
  • Type: Label

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.1021-1928
Primary reference Number: 71178
Old object number: 4104
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Tuesday 8 September 2020 Last processed: Tuesday 22 November 2022

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 (2022) "Girl kneeling in prayer" Web page available at: Accessed: 2022-11-26 15:24:02

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{{cite web|url= |title=Girl kneeling in prayer |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2022-11-26 15:24:02|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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