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Admiral Sir Charles Napier (1786-1860): C.1025-1928

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 27 (Glaisher)


Admiral Sir Charles Napier (1786-1860)


Production: Unidentified factory




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

Sir Charles Napier stands at ease. The figure is mainly white, with features picked out in enamels and gilt. He wears naval uniform, with two medals, epaulets, sash, belt and buttons, all moulded and painted in gilt and brown. He carries a black hat in his right hand; his left holds a cloak, which drapes towards his foot. He carries a sword, with brown hilt and grey scabbard with black bands. He wears side whiskers, and his eyebrows are finely painted. The oval-to-egg shaped base is rounded to the top. A gilt line runs across its front, which also bears a ribbon with the name ' C. NAPIER' in relief, gilt capitals. The underside is concave and glazed. The back of the upper body and the right leg are moulded, with a round vent hole 11cm from the bottom.


History note: [not stated in Rackham]

Legal notes

Dr J.W.L. Glaisher Bequest

Measurements and weight

Depth: 5.4 cm
Depth: 2.125 in
Height: 24.25 cm
Height: 9.5 in
Width: 10.2 cm
Width: 4 in

Acquisition and important dates

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


19th Century, Mid#
Victoria I
Circa 1854 - Circa 1856


A similar figure, but with slightly different moulding and with a cannon and shot beside Napier’s feet, has been found incised ‘John Carr, 1857’ (Pugh p.339). It is likely the name refers to a modeller, as there is no Carr factory known to have operated in the area at this time.

Admiral Sir Charles John Napier (1786-1860) commanded the Baltic Fleet in the Crimean War (1854-56), but after a quarrel with the First Lord of the Admiralty, was replaced by Sir James Deans Dundas. The pairing of this figure with a similarly moulded figure of Dundas suggests that both were made at around this time. Later, as a Member of Parliament, Napier campaigned for the proper training of officers, decent living conditions for seamen and for the abolition of flogging and the press gang.

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. But Sampson Smith figures were rarely marked, and typically have a flat back and plain oval base. Meanwhile there were many other, often smaller, manufacturers of figures working in Staffordshire at this time.

The source of this figure may be an engraving in Cassells Illustrated Family Paper, 7 October, 1854, which shows Napier, with Sir Edmund Lyons and Sir James Deans Dundas, in front of a naval group. Sir Charles Napier was a popular hero of the time. The figure was made in several variations, by different manufacturers, and there were also similarly moulded medals.

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of enamels ( black, brown, grey, 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, brown, grey, red and flesh-pink enamels, and gilt. The underside is concave and glazed. The back of the upper body and the right leg are moulded, with a round vent hole 11cm from the bottom

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: A gilt line runs across the front of the base, which also bears a ribbon with the name ‘C. NAPIER’ , in relief, gilt capitals

  • Text: C NAPIER
  • Location: Ribbon on front of base
  • Method of creation: Moulding and painting
  • Type: Title

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.1025-1928
Primary reference Number: 71188
Old object number: R5115
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) "Admiral Sir Charles Napier (1786-1860)" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-04-24 17:05:26

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