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The Vicar and Moses: C.21-1929

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 27 (Glaisher)


The Vicar and Moses


Potter: Wood, Ralph, II (Probably)




Earthenware figure group, moulded and modelled in several parts, decorated with brown, blue and clear lead glazes.

Staffordshire figure group of a square double pulpit; at the top, a sleeping vicar with his head resting on his left hand; at the bottom, a speaking clerk with his left hand raised in benediction. Each figure has his right hand draped over the front of his pulpit, on which rests an open bible. The pulpit is slab-built as an open vessel, into which the moulded figures have been put. The modelling of the figures is very fine, showing the folds of the clothing, the finger nails, the ringlets of the vicar’s wig and the clerk’s buttons. The vicar wears a wig and clerical dress. The clerk has a blue jacket and the pulpit is mid brown, hands and faces are pale pinkish brown, other parts are white. ‘THE VICAR / AND MOSES’ is impressed on the front of the lower pulpit. The underside is flat and unglazed.


History note: Unknown before donor, Mrs. W.D. (Frances Louisa), Dickson, Bournemouth

Legal notes

Given by Mrs W.D. Dickson

Measurements and weight

Height: 24.1 cm
Width: 11 cm

Relative size of this object

11 cm24.1 cm What does this represent?

Relative size of this object is displayed using code inspired by Good Form and Spectacle's work on the British Museum's Waddeson Bequest website and their dimension drawer. They chose a tennis ball to represent a universally sized object, from which you could envisage the size of an object.

Place(s) associated

  • Burslem ⪼ Staffordshire ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (1929) by Dickson, W. D. (Frances Louisa), Mrs


Late 18th century
George III
Circa 1783 CE - Circa 1795 CE


Figures showing scenes from everyday life and topical events became popular from the late 18th Century. Early examples like this are often complex, with modelled and moulded parts and applied decoration. However, by c.1835 these methods had largely given way to three-part press-moulding which enabled faster and cheaper production for a growing market.

Ralph Wood of Burslem made the earliest Staffordshire figure groups of The Vicar and Moses, decorated with coloured glazes, c. 1782-1795. Similar groups decorated in enamel colours appeared from the early 1800s and versions were made throughout the century. These all feature the double pulpit and sleeping vicar, but variations in quality and modelling show they were produced by different potters - the Fitzwilliam holds two such different versions – and there are also later copies in circulation. A different group with the same title was made by Enoch Wood, c.1790-1810, and shows the clerk leading the drunken vicar home. A satirical ballad, ‘The Vicar and Moses’, by George Alexander Stevens, published c. 1772, which tells of a drunken vicar assisted in his duties by his clerk, Moses, almost certainly influenced the production of both these groups. The double pulpit format here seems to be inspired by William Hogarth's engraving, ‘The Sleeping Congregation’, which shows the vicar preaching while his Clerk and the congregation sleep, first published in 1736.

Components of the work


Materials used in production


Inscription or legends present

  • Location: On front of pulpit
  • Method of creation: Impressed
  • Type: Inscription

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.21-1929
Primary reference Number: 73131
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Tuesday 2 May 2017 Last processed: Sunday 21 March 2021

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 Vicar and Moses" Web page available at: Accessed: 2022-09-28 21:08:56

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{{cite web|url= |title=The Vicar and Moses |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2022-09-28 21:08:56|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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