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Teapot: C.459 & A-1928

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Potter: Barker, Thomas (Possibly)




Dry-bodied red stoneware with mould-applied relief decoration of Oriental figures.

Dry-bodied red-stoneware with mould-applied relief decoration. The cylindrical body has a loop handle and straight, tapering spout with five holes in the wall behind it. The slightly convex lid has a pierced, rounded knob. In the centre of each side of the teapot is a Chinoiserie relief of a woman carrying a flower-pot standing beside another woman, who is accompanied by a peacock. On one side they are flanked by two larger female figures the one on the left seated holding a flower in her right hand with a bird flying on her left, and one on the right standing holding a large leaf in left hand and having a monkey or squirrel on her raised right hand. On the other side, they are flanked by larger standing female figures, one holding a parasol and the other a birdcage for a parrot in the air above. Above these figures there are two rococo scroll motifs. The lid is decorated with a scroll motif, a leaf, and a flower.


History note: Provenance unknown before Mr Stoner, London, who sold it for £6 on 27 May 1918 to Dr J.W.L. Glaisher, FRS, Trinity College, Cambridge

Legal notes

Dr J.W.L. Glaisher Bequest.

Place(s) associated

  • Fenton ⪼ Staffordshire ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

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


18th Century, third quarter#
George III
Circa 1765 CE - Circa 1775 CE


As so many potters produced ware of this kind, attribution has proved challenging. However, Robin Price has managed to divide many surviving examples of redware into groups, based on the pseudo-Chinese seal marks they use. This teapot belongs to Price’s ‘Group III’. All the wares in this group have exactly the same square seal mark with a ‘K’-like symbol in the bottom right hand corner. Many of the items in the group also share identical mould-applied reliefs, handles and spouts, suggesting they were all produced by a single manufacturer. David Barker (1991) has attributed to Group III to Thomas Barker, a potter operating in the Foley area of Fenton (now part of Stoke-on-Trent) in the 1760s and 1770s. Excavations at a site on King Street in Fenton discovered a deposit of sherds dating from c.1770, which included redware. All the redware bases discovered at the site were marked with the Group III pseudo-seal mark and many featured mould-applied reliefs identical to those used on Group III wares, including the small female figure accompanied by a peacock used on this teapot. Documentary evidence suggests that this site was the location of Thomas Barker’s pottery.

Dry-bodied (unglazed) red stonewares were produced by many potters in the mid-18th century. The wares, almost always related to the drinking of tea or coffee, imitated imported Yi-Xing red stoneware from China; for example, this teapot is marked with a pseudo-Chinese seal mark and is decorated with Chinoiserie figures. Prints and illustrated books like ‘The Ladies Amusement’ helped to spread and popularise Chinoiserie imagery inspired by oriental culture.

Components of the work

Body Without Lid Height 9.2 cm
Body With Lid Height 9.6 cm
Width Width 17 cm

Materials used in production

Red dry-bodied stoneware

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: imitation Chinese seal mark in the form of a square containing 5 symbols, the bottom right of which resembles a letter ‘K’

  • Location: On base
  • Method of creation: Impressed
  • Type: Mark

Inscription present: square white paper collector’s label with blue border

  • Text: “No 3746. Red Elers tea-pot with sharply stamped design (Oriental) on each side. b. in London May 27. 1918.”
  • Location: Originally stuck on the base, now detached
  • Method of creation: Handwritten in black ink
  • Type: Label

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.459 & A-1928
Primary reference Number: 75171
Old object number: 3746
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 15 July 2020 Last processed: Tuesday 22 August 2023

Associated departments & institutions

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

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