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Figure of Nobody: C.1433-1928

An image of Anthropomorphic vessel

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 27 (Glaisher)


Figure of Nobody


Pottery: Brislington Pottery (Possibly)
Pottery: uncertain




Tin-glazed and painted earthenware vessel in the form of a man smoking a pipe, initialled and dated 'M/RM/1675'

Buff earthenware, moulded, pierced, tin-glazed, and painted in blue, pale turquoise-green, yellow, and orange. Nobody stands with his feet together, his left hand resting on his hip, and his right hand outstretched and holding a pipe which he is puffing. The pipe was made separately and attached. The roughly circular mound base has a pierced border of single holes alternating with pairs of smaller holes, some of which are filled with glaze. The underside is initialled and dated 'M/RM/1675'


History note: Cyril Andrade, London, from whom purchased on 13 October 1926 for £21 by Dr J.W.L. Glaisher, FRS, Trinity College, Cambridge

Legal notes

Dr. J.W.L. Glaisher Bequest

Measurements and weight

Height: 23.3 cm

Place(s) associated

  • London ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

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


17th Century, Late
Charles II
Production date: dated AD 1675 : dated


Nobody is a non-existent person who is blamed for mishaps and minor misdemeanours. By the late sixteenth century he was envisaged as a bodiless man whose head and arms projected from voluminous breeches, as depicted in an illustration of Nobody on the title page of Nobody and Somebody, a play published in London in 1606. Although fashions changed, this image of Nobody persisted, and the delftware figure of 1675 is very close to the earlier illustration, except that he holds a pipe.

This figure was earlier attributed to London, probably Southwark, but Brislington Pottery has been suggested as an alternative.

Two more delftware Nobodies have survived: one, dated 1682, is at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, and the other is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, where there is also a Chinese porcelain version. The last two have hat-shaped covers, and it seems likely that the others also had hats when new.

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of high-temperature colours ( blue, pale turquoise-green, yellow, and orange)
Base Diameter 10.6 cm

Materials used in production

buff Earthenware

Techniques used in production

Moulding : Buff earthenware, moulded in parts, tin-glazed, and painted in blue, pale turquoise-green, yellow, and orange.

Inscription or legends present

  • Text: M/RM/1675
  • Location: On underside of base
  • Method of creation: Painted in blue
  • Type: Inscription

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.1433-1928
Primary reference Number: 71996
Old object number: 4440
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 18 December 2023 Last processed: Friday 16 February 2024

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Figure of Nobody" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-07-18 09:01:37

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{{cite web|url= |title=Figure of Nobody |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-07-18 09:01:37|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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