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Courtship: C.958-1928

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Object information

Current Location: In storage




Production: Unidentified factory




Earthenware figure group, modelled with moulded parts, pearlware glazed and painted with polychrome enamels.

Earthenware group of a dandy and his lady seated on a bench, with bocage. His left arm is around her shoulder and with his left he is offering something to her (now broken off, possibly flowers?). She carries a brown reticule in her left hand and wears a large yellow hat, a blue blouse or jacket and a white skirt. The hat is decorated with big pink feathers, her skirt with multicoloured dots and stylised flowers and her blouse with yellow epaulettes. She has a yellow bow at her neck. The gentleman has a black top hat and wears a black coat over a frilled shirt with stock and high collar, and yellow trousers. Both wear black shoes. They sit on a moulded yellow bench in front of a stylised tree which has blue and red flowers. Beside him is a brown urn with a three-leaved plant. A small dog (?) to her left has broken off. The scene is placed on a raised oval base which has a flat top and, at the front, a relief moulded panel of red, pink and yellow feathers between scrolling foliage; the foliage and top of the panel are edged in blue; the rest of the base is painted grass green. The back is fully decorated. The underside is flat, within a deep rim which forms the sides of the base.


History note: Captain Reynolds Collection, London, sold to Messrs Gill and Reigate. Bought by Mr Stoner, London, from whom purchased in 1910 by Dr J.W.L. Glaisher, Trinity College, Cambridge. Dr Glaisher paid £125 for this and fourteen other pieces, as part of a purchase of 35 figures and figure groups.

Legal notes

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

Measurements and weight

Height: 19 cm
Width: 21 cm

Acquisition and important dates

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


19th Century, Early#
Circa 1820 CE - Circa 1825 CE


Bocage figure groups like this one are often associated with John Walton of Burslem, and this attribution was suggested by Rackham, 1935. However, the distinctive base here does not seem typical of marked Walton examples and we now know that several potters made figure groups in this style, often copying designs and other features.

Earthenware figure groups were popular from around 1810, although the earliest examples date from nearly a century earlier. A cheaper alternative to porcelain figures, they were often produced by small potteries; very few are marked. Classical or literary subjects were frequently copied from porcelain examples, but potters increasingly turned to scenes from everyday life and topical events. These early figure groups are often complex, with modelled and moulded parts and applied decoration and bocage (stylised foliage) is common on groups from c.1810-20; the backs, though flattened, are also decorated. But as demand increased processes were simplified to allow cheaper mass production and by the mid 1830s the earlier methods had largely given way to three-part press-moulding.

This fashionably dressed ‘dandy’ is courting his lady, though her pose suggests she may not yet be willing. Another piece in the Fitzwilliam collection (C.952-1928) shows a similar couple in the same setting as a family group with two small children. Similar features, such as the base, bocage, bench, urn and decoration on her dress, suggest both are from the same pottery, although the family group is slightly smaller. As Dr Glaisher's notes say, such figure groups are particularly interesting because they show contemporary costume.

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of enamels lead-glaze

Materials used in production

white Earthenware

Inscription or legends present

  • Type: No visible mark
  • Text: No. 3205. Staffordshire courtship group. Lady and gentleman seated on a bench. From the Reynolds Collection. June 1910.
  • Location: Underside of base
  • Method of creation: Rectangular paper label handwritten in black ink
  • Type: Label

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.958-1928
Primary reference Number: 76450
Old object number: 3205
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Thursday 15 June 2023 Last processed: Thursday 7 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) "Courtship" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-04-12 23:46:05

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{{cite web|url= |title=Courtship |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-04-12 23:46:05|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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