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John Bryan: C.988-1928

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


John Bryan


Production: Unidentified factory




White earthenware fgure moulded in three parts, with separately moulded right arm, and lead glazed. Painted in underglaze black and in grey, red and flesh-pink enamels, and gilt.

John Bryan stand with his right hand holding a book and resting on the top of a short pillar; his left hand clasps his lapel. The figure is well coloured. He wears a shiny black three piece suit, with frock coat, a white cravat, breeches, black stockings and black shoes. He is very portly. His hair is grey and his eyebrows finely painted. The pillar is grey, with a brick-shaped pattern in the moulding, and the top of the book is red. The oval base has a chamfered edge to the top, on which ‘J. BRYAN’ is inscribed in raised and gilded capitals; below, a gilt line runs across the front. The underside is concave and glazed, with a central vent hole. The back is moulded and mainly painted.


History note: Messrs Mortlock’s, corners of Oxford St. and Orchard St. W. Bought on on March 15 1910 )for £2-2 (two guineas, or £2 two shillings) by Dr Glaisher, Trinity College, Cambridge, who notes: ‘It was priced £3.3 but I got the old gentleman to consent to reduce it’.

Legal notes

Dr J.W.L.Glaisher Bequest

Measurements and weight

Depth: 8 cm
Depth: 2.125 in
Height: 26.5 cm
Height: 10.5 in
Width: 11 cm
Width: 4.375 in

Relative size of this object

11 cm10.5 cm8 cm What does this represent?

Relative size of this object is displayed using code inspired by Good Form and Spectacle's work on the British Museum's Waddeson Bequest website and their dimension drawer. They chose a tennis ball to represent a universally sized object, from which you could envisage the size of an object.

Acquisition and important dates

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


Mid 19th century
Circa 1840 CE - 1850 CE


John Bryan (1770-1856) was a Wesleyan minister, born at Llanfyllin. He was minister of various Welsh and English circuits from 1801-1824. Later he became a grocer in Leeds, and subsequently at Caernarvon. He was known for his preaching and for his many converts. Pugh identifies a number of Welsh clerical figures made in the 1840s, and suggests that they were made for the Welsh market.

Rackham (1935) lists this figure as of a type made chiefly by Sampson Smith at Longton, a factory listed in contemporary directories as a ‘manufacturer of figures in great variety’, which began around 1851 and continued to make figures in quantity into the early part of the twentieth century. But Sampson Smith figures, which were rarely marked, typically have a flat back and plain oval base. Meanwhile, there were many other, often smaller, manufacturers of figures working in Staffordshire at this time.

The source may be a lithograph of a figure in similar pose, signed ‘Eich Serchog, J.Bryan’ (yours sincerely, J. Bryan), held in the National Library of Wales.

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of enamels ( grey, red and flesh-pink) underglaze black ( made from cobalt, iron and manganese) gold

Materials used in production

White earthenware

Techniques used in production

Press moulding : White earthenware moulded in three parts, with separately moulded right arm, and lead glazed. Painted in underglaze black and in grey, red and flesh-pink enamels, and gilt. The underside is concave and glazed, with a central vent hole. The back is moulded and mainly painted.

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: inscribed in raised and gilded capitals, above a gilt line

  • Text: ‘J. BRYAN’
  • Location: Front of base
  • Method of creation: Moulded and gilded
  • Type: Name

Inscription present: Rectangular paper label (torn)

  • Text: 'No.3177. Staffordshire statuette of William O’Bryan, founder of the Bible Christians (lettered J Bryan on the base) b. in London March 15, 191 [label torn]'
  • Location: Underside of base
  • Method of creation: Handwritten in black script
  • Type: Label

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.988-1928
Primary reference Number: 76498
Old object number: 3177
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 15 July 2020 Last processed: Tuesday 22 November 2022

Associated departments & institutions

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

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2022) "John Bryan" Web page available at: Accessed: 2022-12-03 06:47:21

Citation for Wikipedia

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{{cite web|url= |title=John Bryan |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2022-12-03 06:47:21|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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