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The Return of the Spies: C.1856-1928

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The Return of the Spies


Pottery: Unknown




Slip-coated earthenware with incised and cut-away decoration, painted in green under lead-glaze. Inscribed 'D/A/M' on the left of the Spies, and '1700' on the right


History note: The Right Hon. Montagu, first Lord Swaythling (1832-1911); his son, Louis Samuel Montagu, second Lord Swaythling (1869-1927); sold Christie's, 8 May 1924,'The Swaythling Heirlooms', lot 56.

Legal notes

Dr J.W.L. Glaisher Bequest

Measurements and weight

Diameter: 87.2 cm
Height: 9.2 cm

Acquisition and important dates

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


Beginning of the 18th Century
Production date: dated AD 1700


The dish was attributed to Hüls by Rackham (1935), but was reattributed to the Lower Rhineland (Niederhein) when exhibited in Peasant Pottery of the Lower Rhine 17th - 20th Century at the Fitzwilliam Museum.

The story of the Spies occurs in Numbers, 13 and 14. Moses sent out twelve heads of the tribes of Israel to spy out the land of Canaan. On arrival they found that it was very pleasant and fertile, and as the grapes were just ripe, they cut off a bunch and carried it back to Moses on a pole carried by two men. The text does not state which of the spies they were, but in art they are identified as Caleb and Joshua.

Components of the work

Decoration composed of slip

Materials used in production


Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: initials on theviewer's left of the Spies and the date on the right

  • Text: 'D/A/M 1700
  • Location: On front
  • Method of creation: Incised
  • Type: Inscription

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.1856-1928
Primary reference Number: 72762
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Tuesday 27 May 2014 Last processed: Tuesday 22 November 2022

Associated departments & institutions

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

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2022) "The Return of the Spies" Web page available at: Accessed: 2022-12-09 12:59:58

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{{cite web|url= |title=The Return of the Spies |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2022-12-09 12:59:58|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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