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The Lost Sheep: C.41-1930

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 27 (Glaisher)


The Lost Sheep


Potter: Wood, Ralph, II




Earthenware figure of a shepherd carrying a sheep decorated with coloured lead-glazes

Cream earthenware, moulded in parts, assembled, and decorated with translucent bluish, and greyish-blue, pale green, pale yellow, pale brown, and black lead-glazes. The figure is supported on a low square base with straight sides, which is hollow underneath and has a central ventilation hole in the middle. The youthful shepherd stands on a rocky and grassy mound beside a tree stump. He has his left foot forward, as if he has just stepped onto one of the rocks, and leans forward slightly because of the weight of the sheep carried over his shoulders.Its feet are tied together by a rope, which he grasps in both hands. His head is turned three-quarters to his right. He wears a black tricorne hat, a blue waistcoat under a green coat, pale yellow breeches, and black shoes. The black glaze on his hat has run down over his left shoulder during firing.


History note: John Henry Taylor collection; sold Sotheby's, 14th November 1930, Catalogue of the Valuable Collections of English Pottery & Porcelain, Glass, Objects of Vertu and Furniture, the Property of the late John Henry Taylor, Esq., Newstead, Birstall, Leicestershire, lot 592.

Legal notes

Purchased with the Glaisher Fund

Measurements and weight

Height: 23.7 cm
Width: 8 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Burslem ⪼ Staffordshire ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bought (1930-11-14) by Sotheby's


18th Century
Circa 1783 - Circa 1795


This figure represents the Parable of the Lost Sheep in the Gospel of St Luke, 15: 3-7, and in St Matthew, 18: 10-14. It was paired with a female figure representing the Parable of the Lost Piece of Silver (see C.42-1930). The figures were probably made by Ralph Wood II, possibly during his partnership with his cousin, Enoch Wood ,c. 1783-9, or when potting on his own between then and his death in 1795. 'Men with lost sheep, costing 9d each were mentioned in an order from Josiah and Thomas Wedgwood (Wedgwood MSS 11496.12) dated 16 November 1783, and a pair of 'Man with lost sheep & Woman with lost piece cold.' (coloured), costing 2s.0d. were bought from Ralph Wood by his brother, the potter, John Wood, and were recorded in his sales ledger on 25 January 1787. The models may have continued to be made by Ralph Wood III from 1795 until his death in 1801. An example of each figure marked 'Ra.Wood/Burslem' was recorded by Frank Falkener in 1912.

Components of the work

Decoration composed of metallic oxides ( to colour glaze blue, green, pale yellow, pale brown, and black) lead-glaze
Base Depth 0.9 cm

Materials used in production

cream Earthenware

Techniques used in production


References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.41-1930
Primary reference Number: 74959
Glaisher Addition number: Gl.Add.10-1939
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Tuesday 14 February 2023 Last processed: Friday 8 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

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

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "The Lost Sheep" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-07-19 04:11:23

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