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A Wise Virgin: C.921-1928

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


A Wise Virgin


Production: Unidentified




Lead-glazed earthenware painted in polychrome enamels

Cream earthenware, press-moulded, covered with slightly blue tinted lead-glaze and painted in pale turquoise, green, yellow, ochre, reddish-brown and black enamels. The figure is supported on a low straight-sided square base, the underside of which has canted sides, and a closed central area with a large ventilation hole in the middle. The exterior is decorated with a dark reddish-brown horizontal line on all four sides. The woman, possibly one of the Wise Virgins stands on a green mound with her left leg advanced, holding a ewer in her left hand by her side, and extending her right arm towards the viewer. The hand and what it held is missing. She has long ochre-coloured hair swept away from her face into a low bun at the back, and with tresses falling down over her shoulders. She wears a yellow bodice and mantle with dark reddish-brown lining over a long pale turquoise skirt edged and spotted in black. Her ewer has a dark reddish-brown rim and foot, a spray of foliage on the side and spots on the shoulder. The underside is painted in reddish-brown with the number '43' .


History note: Puttick & Simpson, London, 2 March 1909, one of three items in lot 44 ; purchased for £1 6s.0d. by S. Fenton on behalf of Dr J.W.L. Glaisher, FRS, Trinity College, Cambridge

Legal notes

Dr J. W. L. Glaisher Bequest

Measurements and weight

Depth: 9.8 cm
Height: 22.5 cm

Acquisition and important dates

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


Early 19th century
George IV
Production date: circa AD 1820


This figure was identified by Dr Glaisher as possibly The Lost Piece because he imagined that the woman's missing hand held the found coin, but an example in the Willett Collection at Brighton Museum holds a flaming lamp in that hand, which suggests that the woman represents one of the five Wise Virgins from the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins in the Gospel of St Matthew, 25:1-13. If she had held a cup or bowl in the extended hand, she might, as Rackham suggested in 1935, have been intended to represent Temperance.

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of enamel ( pale turquoise, green, yellow, ochre, dark reddish-brown, and black)
Surface composed of lead-glaze ( slightly blue tinted)
Base Width 8.8 cm

Materials used in production

cream Earthenware

Techniques used in production


Inscription or legends present

  • Text: 43
  • Location: On underside of base
  • Method of creation: Painted in dark reddish-brown enamel
  • Type: Number

Inscription present: rectangular white paper stick on label with a blue line on left top and right sides and a plant motif in two top corners

  • Text: No 3015/Staffordshire/figure of 'The/Lost piece/found'. Right/arm restored./b. at Puttick/and Simpsons/March 2 1909
  • Method of creation: Hand-written in black ink
  • Type: Label

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.921-1928
Primary reference Number: 76383
Old object number: 3015
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Friday 15 December 2023 Last processed: Friday 15 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) "A Wise Virgin" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-05-28 00:41:07

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{{cite web|url= |title=A Wise Virgin |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-05-28 00:41:07|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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