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Cistern: C.1386-1928

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 27 (Glaisher)


Production: Norfolk House (Possibly)




Earthenware, moulded, tin-glazed dark blue, and painted in white

Buff earthenware, moulded, tin-glazed dark blue, and painted in white. Oval with convex sides, and a wide out-turned rim, supported on three hollow bun feet, each pierced by a hole . At each end there is a moulded lion’s mask holding an upturned ring in its mouth. The inside is painted with a Chinese figure seated in a landscape and with alternating wavy lines and small circles round the rim. The exterior is decorated on each side with a Chinese figure seated in a landscape and with a lower border of alternating small circles and wavy lines, and above a band of groups of grasses.


History note: Purchased in London about 1897 by Dr J.W.L. Glaisher, FRS, Trinity College, Cambridge

Legal notes

Dr J.W.L. Glaisher Bequest

Measurements and weight

Height: 14 cm
Length: 25.5 cm

Place(s) associated

  • London ⪼ Surrey ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

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


17th Century, Late
Charles II
James II
William III and Mary II
Circa 1680 CE - 1695 CE


Sherds of blue delftware have been found on the site of the Norfolk House pottery in Lambeth, but it may also have been made elsewhere in London, and at Brislington, near Bristol. The Oriental design, featuring a chinaman in a landscape with brush-like tree and shrubs, was probably derived from Chinese Transitional style porcelain or Japanese imitations of it.

This form imitates the massive silver cisterns used to cool wine bottles in cold water or ice.

School or Style

Oriental style

Components of the work

Decoration composed of enamel ( white)

Materials used in production

dark blue Tin-glaze

Techniques used in production

Moulding : Buff earthenware, moulded, with applied handles and feet, tin-glazed dark blue, and painted in white.

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.1386-1928
Primary reference Number: 71902
Old object number: 1276
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 10 February 2021 Last processed: Friday 16 February 2024

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) "Cistern" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-05-22 06:04:19

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{{cite web|url= |title=Cistern |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-05-22 06:04:19|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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