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Napoleon III and Prince Albert: C.1026-1928

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 27 (Glaisher)


Napoleon III and Prince Albert


Production: Unidentified factory




White earthenware figure group moulded in three parts, with Albert's left arm and right forearm separately moulded, and pearlware glazed. Painted with black, blue, red, pink and flesh-pink enamels, and gilt.

Napoleon and Albert stand side by side, Albert' s right hand clasped in Napoleon' s left, and Napoleon's left hand resting on Albert's right shoulder. Between them is a low wall with a pile of shot at its base; on each side is a low pillar. Behind their heads are the crossed flags of France and Britain, the latter partially coloured in pink.The rectangular base has a chamfered edge to the front, on which 'Napoleon & Prince Albert' is painted in gilt script. The figure group is mainly white, with coloured flags and features picked out in enamels and gilt. Both figures wear military uniform and bicorne hats, which are decorated with touches of gilt; Albert carries a sword and his hat is plumed. Both figures have black shoes and wear finely painted moustaches and whiskers; Napoleon has a small beard. The underside is concave and glazed. The back is flat with rough marks in the clay and a vent hole 5cm from the bottom.


History note: Harrods’ Stores, antique department, London; bought on 20 May 1909 for 25 shillings by Dr Glaisher, Trinity College, Cambridge.

Legal notes

Dr J.W.L.Glaisher Bequest

Measurements and weight

Depth: 7.5 cm
Depth: 3 in
Height: 36 cm
Height: 14.25 in
Width: 19 cm
Width: 7.5 cm

Acquisition and important dates

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


19th Century, Mid#
Circa 1855 CE - Circa 1857 CE


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.

Prince Albert (1819-1861) was the husband of Queen Victoria. Born in Bavaria, he was the younger son of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. He was known for his interest in social reform and his active interest in the arts, science, trade and industry led to the 1851 Great Exhibition and the establishment of the South Kensington museums.

Rackham (1935) identifies this figure as of a type made chiefly by Sampson Smith, and Woolliscroft lists a similar figure (but with different base) as attributed 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. But Sampson Smith figures were rarely marked, and although this group shares the gilt script title and mainly flat back of other figures identified as Sampson Smith, the modelling of the figures seems less ‘solid’ and the rectangular base and addition of subsidiary mouldings are untypical. There were many other, often smaller, manufacturers of figures working in Staffordshire at this time.

The alliance of France, England and Turkey against the Russia Empire in the Crimean War was a popular source for Staffordshire figures. This group appeared in a number of different editions , clearly made by several different Staffordshire potters. It may have been made to celebrate the state visit of Napoleon III to Britain, in April 1855, the reciprocal visit by Victoria and Albert to Paris, later that year, or the successful conclusion to the war in 1856. Given the Staffordshire potters’ penchant for celebrating those who championed social reform, it perhaps also sought to recognise Albert’s appointment as ‘prince consort’ in 1857.

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

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

Materials used in production

White earthenware

Techniques used in production

Press moulding : White earthenware moulded in three parts with Albert’s left arm and right forearm separately moulded, and pearlware glazed. Painted with black, blue, red, pink and flesh-pink enamels, and gilt. The underside is concave and glazed. The back is flat with rough marks in the clay and a vent hole 5cm from the bottom.

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: ‘Napoleon & Prince Albert’ is painted in gilt script

  • Text: Napoleon & Prince Albert
  • Location: Front of base
  • Method of creation: Painted
  • Type: Title

Inscription present: Rectangular paper label handwritten in black ink

  • Text: No.3001. Staffordshire Group of Prince Albert and Napoleon III with English and French flags. Time of the Crimean War, 1854. b. in London May 20, 1909.
  • Location: Underside of base
  • Method of creation: Handwritten in black ink
  • Type: Label

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.1026-1928
Primary reference Number: 71189
Old object number: 3001
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) "Napoleon III and Prince Albert" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-06-22 10:35:37

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