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Venus and Cupid with a Dolphin: C.898-1928

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Venus and Cupid with a Dolphin


Production: Unidentified Staffordshire Pottery




Earthenware figure of Venus accompanied by Cupid and a dolphin, covered with blue-tinted lead-glaze and painted in polychrome enamels

Cream earthenware, press-moulded, covered with blue-tinted lead-glaze, and painted in greyish-blue, turquoise, green, yellow, flesh pink, brownish-red, brown, and black enamels. The group is supported on a low square base decorated round the top of the side edges with a black line, and inscribed 'Venus' across the front. It is concave underneath and has a central ventilation hole. Venus stands on a green and brown rocky mound with a tall brown tree trunk at the back. She rests her left hand on the tail of a dolphin with a stream of water issuing from its mouth. In her right hand she holds brownish-red object, perhaps a fish. Cupid, nude and winged, stands on her right, resting his left hand on her drapery and holding a small bow or arrow in his right hand. Venus has brown hair with a black band at the front. She is barefooted, and the upper part of her body is naked. The lower part is covered by a patterned drape with a yellow lining which is held up by a black strap across the front of her body, which raises the drape to reveal her left leg. The dolphin is turquoise with a brownish-red tail fin. and black eyes.


History note: A.G. Smith,193 Wardour Street, London, from whom purchased for £1.15s.0d. on 15 February 1905, by Dr J.W.L. Glaisher, FRS, Trinity College, Cambridge

Legal notes

Dr J. W. L. Glaisher Bequest

Measurements and weight

Height: 22 cm
Width: 10.5 cm

Acquisition and important dates

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


18th Century, Late-19th Century, Early#
George III
Circa 1790 - 1810


According to the Greek poet, Hesiod, the goddess Venus was born fully grown from the sea and came ashore at Paphos on a scallop shell. In sculpture of the classical and later periods she was frequently shown standing on a shell, accompanied by Cupid and a dolphin. This pearlware model is similar to one on a high base decorated with coloured glazes (C.770-1928) attributed to Ralph Wood II (d. 1795), and could have been made at his factory towards the end of his life, or during the short proprietorship of his son Ralph II (d. 1801). But as copying of models was rife, may have been made by an unidentified Staffordshire factory in the early years of the 19th century.

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Surface composed of lead-glaze ( blue tinted)
Decoration composed of enamel ( greyish-blue, turquoise, green, yellow, flesh pink, brownish-red, brown, and black)
Base Depth 7.7 cm Width 7.6 cm

Materials used in production

cream Earthenware

Techniques used in production


Inscription or legends present

  • Text: Venus
  • Location: On front of base
  • Method of creation: Painted in black enamel
  • Type: Inscription

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.898-1928
Primary reference Number: 76307
Old object number: 2349
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Tuesday 2 May 2023 Last processed: Wednesday 13 December 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) "Venus and Cupid with a Dolphin" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-07-15 18:13:57

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{{cite web|url= |title=Venus and Cupid with a Dolphin |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-07-15 18:13:57|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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