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Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie: C.1024-1928

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie


Production: Unidentified factory




White earthenware, moulded in three parts and pearlware glazed; painted with black, red and flesh-pink enamels, and gilt.

Eugenie sits on a high backed chair and Napoleon stands to her left, with his right hand on hip and his left resting on a draped pillar. The plain oval base is inscribed ‘Eugenie & Napoleon’ in gilt script. The figures are mainly white, with features picked out in enamels and gilt. Eugenie’s gown has a three-tier, flounced, crinoline skirt and bertha bodice, decorated with small moulded flowers and gilt touches; she carries a handkerchief and a wrap, the latter moulded and touched in black to suggest ermine. Napoleon wears a moustache and beard; he is dressed in military uniform with tall black boots, sash, belt, epaulets, medals and a sword. The underside is concave and glazed. Napoleon’s back is moulded, otherwise the group is flat-backed, with rough markings in the clay and a round vent hole 5.75cm from the bottom.


History note: Messrs Mortlock’s, corner of Oxford St. and Orchard St. W., London (Mr Mortlock purchased it from Hertford ). Bought on 15 March 1910 for one pound eleven shillings and sixpence (£1. 11/6), by Dr Glaisher, Trinity College.

Legal notes

Dr J.W.L.Glaisher Bequest

Measurements and weight

Depth: 6.5 cm
Depth: 2.625 in
Height: 23.5 cm
Height: 9.25 in
Width: 14.8 cm
Width: 5.875 in

Acquisition and important dates

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


19th Century, Mid#
Production date: circa AD 1853


Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte (1808-1873), the nephew of Napoleon I, was elected President of France in 1848 and, after a coup d’état, ruled as Emperor Napoleon III from 1852 until 1870. He followed an aggressive foreign policy to extend French power and was Britain’s ally in the Crimean War (1854-56), in the campaign against Austria (1859) and in expeditions to China (1857-60). Discredited in France in 1870, he took refuge, and died, in England.

Napoleon III married Eugenie d’Montijo, a Spanish Countess, on 30 January 1853. This figure group may have been made to celebrate the marriage, though at her wedding Eugenie wore a high necked dress and diamond tiara.

Rackham (1935) lists this figure as of a type made chiefly by Sampson Smith, and Wolliscroft also attributes it to the factory. Sampson Smith is listed in contemporary directories as a ‘manufacturer of figures in great variety’ in Longton and seems to have begun making figures around 1851. The firm continued to make figures in quantity into the early part of the twentieth century, and again from 1948 when a number of original moulds were found on site. But Sampson Smith figures were rarely marked, and although this group shares the plain oval base, gilt script title and mainly flat back of other figures which have been attributed to Sampson Smith, the modelling of the figures seems less ‘solid’. There were many other, often smaller, manufacturers of figures working in Staffordshire at this time.

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of enamels ( black, 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 black, red and flesh-pink enamels, and gilt. The underside is concave and glazed. Napoleon’s back is moulded, otherwise the group is flat-backed, with rough markings in the clay and a round vent hole 5.75cm from the bottom.

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: ‘Eugenie & Napoleon’ in gilt script

  • Text: Eugenie & Napoleon
  • Location: Front of base
  • Method of creation: Painted in gilt script
  • Type: Title

Inscription present: Rectangular paper label, handwritten in black script.

  • Text: No.2178, Staffordshire group of the Empress Eugenie and Napoleon III circa 1851... [words rubbed away]... London 1910
  • Location: Underside of base
  • Method of creation: Handwritten in black ink
  • Type: Label

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.1024-1928
Primary reference Number: 71187
Old object number: 3178
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

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