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The Pelican in her Piety: C.215-1928

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


The Pelican in her Piety


Potter: Simpson, Ralph




History note: A lady owner at New Malden; Sotheby's, 28 November 1924, lot 51a; purchased by Mr Stoner for £195 (with 5% commission £204.15s.) on behalf of Dr J.W.L. Glaisher, FRS, Trinity College, Cambridge

Legal notes

Dr J. W. L. Glaisher Bequest

Measurements and weight

Depth: 8.5 cm
Diameter: 46.5 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Burslem ⪼ Staffordshire ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

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


Circa 1670 - 1680


The name on the rim is probably that of the potter, Ralph Simpson (1651-1724) of Burslem, who was the son of John Simpson and brother of John II Simpson.

The pelican was believed to love its offspring so much that it fed them on its own blood. On the basis of this legend, images of the pelican feeding its young from its own breast came to be regarded as a symbol of Christ's sacrifice on the Cross to save humanity from sin, and also as a symbol Christ's blood in the Eucharistic Sacrament.

Components of the work

Front composed of lead-glaze ( clear yellowish)
Decoration composed of slip ( cream, red-brown and dark brown)

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Throwing (pottery technique)

Inscription or legends present

  • Location: On lower border
  • Method of creation: Slip-trailed
  • Type: Inscription

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.215-1928
Primary reference Number: 73163
Old object number: 4463
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 19 June 2023 Last processed: Tuesday 17 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 Pelican in her Piety" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-04-18 05:40:17

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{{cite web|url= |title=The Pelican in her Piety |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-04-18 05:40:17|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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