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Demosthenes (384-322 BC): C.900-1928

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Demosthenes (384-322 BC)


Potter: Wood, Enoch
Sculptor: Cheere, John (After)




Earthenware with blue-tinted lead-glaze, painted in polychrome enamels

Earthenware, press-moulded, covered with blue-tinted lead-glaze, and painted in blue, turquoise, pale yellow, flesh pink, pale pink, red, brown, grey, and black enamels. The shallow, straight-sided rectangular base is hollow underneath, and is painted in blue, pale red, brown, grey and black to resemble marble. Demosthenes stands on his left leg with his right advanced. He leans forward, extending his right arm and holding up his cloak up to his chest with his left hand. He has black hair and beard, and wears a white tunic and a long turquoise cloak with a pink lining and yellow fringe. On the viewer's right there is a tall pedestal veined in black to resemble marble, and decorated on the front in relief with a green swag above an arched panel enclosing a scene showing a small figure of Demosthenes standing on a rocky promontory addressing the waves, with two sailing ships in the distance, and overhead, a larger figure of Hermes/Mercury holding a caduceus with a cloud below him.


History note: Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 12 December 1918, Porcelain, decorative furniture and Eastern rugs, lot 37; purchased for 37 guineas by Mr Stoner who sold it on the same day for £38 to Dr J.W.L. Glaisher, Trinity College, Cambridge

Legal notes

Dr J.W.L. Glaisher Bequest

Measurements and weight

Height: 48.2 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Burslem ⪼ Staffordshire ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

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


18th Century, Late
George III
Circa 1784 CE - 1793 CE


The figure in relief on the pestal is Hermes/Mercury, the messenger of the gods, who was associated with eloquence and reasoning, and therefore alludes to Demosthenes' oratorial skill.

The mark E. WOOD suggests that the figure was probably made between 1783 when Enoch Wood (1739-1840) was potting on his own, probably at the Over House Works in Burslem, and 1793 when he opened a new factory at Fountain Place, and entered into a formal partnership with James Caldwell which lasted until 1818. However, it is possible that the mark E. WOOD continued to be used after the partnership was formed and the WOOD & CALDWELL mark was introduced. Wood's partnership with his cousin Ralph Wood in 1784 lasted for only a few weeks.

When purchased by Dr Glaisher the figure was identified as St Paul preaching at Athens, and has also been described as 'Eloquence', but the model was after a plaster of Demosthenes by John Cheere (1709-87) of which there is an example 20 in high at Burton Constable, Yorkshire, where there is also a preliminary drawing by Cheere, and a life-size figure neither of which have the pedestal on the right of the figure (see Documentation, Hall, 1970). If not from Cheere, Wood might have obtained a plaster model from Charles Harris of the Strand (d. c. 1795) whose undated 'Catalogue of Statues, Bass Reliefs, Bustos, & c.' (V. & A., National Art Library 1.37.Y) includes a figure of Demosthenes of the same size for 2 guineas, and figures of Prudence and Fortitude which might have been the models for Wood's figures of those subjects. A somewhat similar figure is shown representing 'Education' in George Bickham's 'The Universal Penman', London, 1743.

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of enamels ( blue, turquoise, pale yellow, flesh pink, pale pink, red, brown, grey, and black)

Materials used in production

tinted slight blue Lead-glaze

Techniques used in production

Press-moulding : Earthenware, press-moulded in parts, covered with blue-tinted lead-glaze, and painted in blue, turquoise, pale yellow, flesh pink, pale pink, red, brown, grey, and black enamels

Inscription or legends present

  • Text: E. WOOD
  • Location: On back of base
  • Method of creation: Impressed
  • Type: Factory mark

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.900-1928
Primary reference Number: 76326
Old object number: 4727
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Saturday 24 June 2023 Last processed: Wednesday 13 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

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

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