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The Prodigal Son (Poverty): C.1184D-1928

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


The Prodigal Son (Poverty)


Factory: Unidentified Pottery
Decorator: unidentified enameller




Lead-glazed creamware painted in enamels with scene from the parable of the Prodigal Son.

Pale cream-coloured earthenware covered in a clear lead-glaze and painted overglaze with coloured enamels. The plate has a six-lobed wavy rim with a double moulded line around the edge. Each lobe is painted with red, yellow and blue bands around the edge and yellow scrolls, green leaves and a red cross in the centre. The scene in the middle of the plate shows the Prodigal Son standing in a pig pen; to his left are two pigs cramming their heads into a trough and to his left are a standing and a seated pig. His clothes look ragged, especially his breeches, which have a zigzag edge, as if torn. In the background are trees and a red-and-white marble effect archway. Beneath the scene is the title: ‘POVERTΫ’. Marked on the base with impressed lozenge.


History note: Provenance unidentified before Mr Stoner, London, who sold as part of set of six plates (C.1184-1928 – C.1184E-1928) for £26 on 13 January 1919 to Dr J.W.L. Glaisher, FRS, Trinity College, Cambridge

Legal notes

Dr J.W.L. Glaisher Bequest

Measurements and weight

Diameter: 25.1 cm
Height: 2.7 cm

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1928-12-07) by Glaisher, J. W. L., Dr


Although the plate itself is of English manufacture, the overglaze painted decoration is thought to be Dutch. The Prodigal Son scenes on the plates are a common motif on Dutch decorated English creamware, often appearing with Dutch captions rather than the English ones. Some of scenes from this set of plates appear with different English captions on three stylistically comparable plates in the Metropolitan Museum in New York (1971.180.199-201).

The lozenge mark on the plate is listed in Godden’s ‘Encyclopaedia of British Pottery and Porcelain Marks’ as being a workman’s mark used at the Swansea pottery c.1800-10 but Donald Towner suggests it also appears on 18th-century creamware, sometimes in conjunction with Wedgwood marks.

This plate belongs to a set of six (C.1184-1928 - C.1184E-1928) which illustrates the parable of the Prodigal Son. The scenes on the plates are derived from Richard Purcell’s prints, published in London in that early 1750s, after a series of paintings of the Prodigal Son by the French artist Sebastien le Clerc. This plate shows the Prodigal Son destitute after he has squandered the money given to him by his father on worldly pleasures.

People, subjects and objects depicted

Materials used in production

clear Lead-glaze
cream-coloured Earthenware

Techniques used in production

Press-moulding : Press-moulded cream-coloured earthenware covered in a clear lead-glaze and painted overglaze in coloured enamels
Painting overglaze

Inscription or legends present

  • Text: POVERTΫ
  • Location: Below image in centre of plate
  • Method of creation: Painted overglaze in black enamel
  • Type: Inscription

Inscription present: lozenge

  • Location: On base
  • Method of creation: Impressed
  • Type: Mark

Inscription present: circular, stick-on paper label with border printed in black with ‘J. W. L. GLAISHER COLLECTION’

  • Text: 4610(4)
  • Location: On base
  • Method of creation: Handwritten in black ink
  • Type: Label

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.1184D-1928
Primary reference Number: 71475
Old catalogue number: 4610(5)
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 15 July 2020 Last processed: Monday 23 October 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) "The Prodigal Son (Poverty)" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-07-16 01:45:54

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