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Saint John the Baptist: C.946-1928

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Saint John the Baptist


Production: Lakin & Poole (Possibly)




Earthenware figure, moulded and modelled, pearlware glazed and painted with flesh-pink, brown, yellow, green and red enamels.

Earthenware figure of St. John the Baptist standing on a high square base. His hair is brown and curly. He wears a brown animal-skin garment over his left shoulder and a strap or belt over his right. His left hand rests on the head of a sheep which is climbing up his side. The hair, animal skin and sheep’s fur are modelled in relief. The oblong base is marbled, yellow on the sides and green on the top. The front of the base is labelled ‘S.JOAO’ and the back ‘No. 4’, both labels impressed and painted black on a reserved area of white. The underside of the base is deeply recessed and glazed, with two small vent holes towards the back.


History note: Bought from Mr F..J. Morrell, 48 Liverpool Road, Stoke-upon-Trent, on 24 October 1911, for £2.10s or £2.15s (two pounds and ten or fifteen shillings)., by Dr J.W.L. Glaisher, Trinity College, Cambridge.

Legal notes

Dr. J.W.L. Glaisher Bequest, 1928

Measurements and weight

Height: 22.9 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Burslem ⪼ Staffordshire ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

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


Circa 1790 - Circa 1800


Pearlware figures decorated with enamels were in production by 1780. They were generally made at smaller potteries and are rarely marked. A cheaper alternative to porcelain figures, they drew on a variety of sources, including sculpture and porcelain figures. Classical, biblical, mythological and literary subjects were popular, as were animals and representations of rural life, seasons and trades. From the early 19th Century, scenes from everyday life and topical events were also common. These early figures are moulded, perhaps with moulded or modelled parts added, the bases often formed separately. By c.1835, these early methods had largely given way to three-part press-moulding, which enabled cheaper, mass production of figures for a growing market.

The label ‘S.JOAO’ indicates that this figure was made for export, perhaps to Portugal or Brazil. Dr Glaisher thought it ‘ a really good specimen…[it] took my fancy from the careful modelling of the face, and the sheep in general style’. Both he and Bernard Rackham attribute it to Lakin and Poole of Burslem, citing the rectangular, marbled plinth and the careful modelling. This would indicate an early date, as the partnership of Lakin and Poole lasted only from 1791-1797. Their goods included blue-printed and cream earthenware, black basalts and ‘figures in great variety’. Halfpenny’s description of their figures as ‘plump ... with slightly protruding eyes’ could apply here, although the marbling and labelling of the base seems less refined than on marked Lakin and Poole examples.

Components of the work

Decoration composed of lead-glaze ( blue tinged) enamels

Materials used in production

White earthenware

Techniques used in production

Moulding : White earthenware, moulded and modelled, lead glazed and painted with polychrome enamels.

Inscription or legends present

  • Text: S. JOAO
  • Location: Front of base
  • Method of creation: Impressed and painted black
  • Type: Label
  • Text: No. 4
  • Location: Back of base
  • Method of creation: Impressed and painted black
  • Type: Label
  • Text: 4557 Staffordshire figure of St John the Baptist b. at Stoke on Trent June 4 1925.
  • Location: Underside of base
  • Method of creation: Rectangular paper lable handwritten in black ink
  • Type: Label

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.946-1928
Primary reference Number: 76426
Old object number: 4557
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 15 July 2020 Last processed: Tuesday 16 May 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 (2023) "Saint John the Baptist" Web page available at: Accessed: 2023-05-28 18:50:02

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{{cite web|url= |title=Saint John the Baptist |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2023-05-28 18:50:02|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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