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Lion: C.993-1928

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 27 (Glaisher)




Production: Benjamin Plant (Probably)




Earthenware figure, moulded with modelled additions, lead glazed and painted with polychrome enamels.

Large animal figure of a lion, with right foot raised on a ball and open mouth with protruding tongue, standing on a rectangular base. The tail tip and mane are modeled to suggest thick fur and coloured a rich red-brown. The rest of the body is painted more thinly in the same colour, with a stiff brush to indicate the texture of the pelt. The ball, or globe, is yellow-green. The figure is fully shaped in the round and decorated all over; there is a vent hole under the tail. The base is a bright grass green rectangular plinth, the top moulded, decorated with a swag and foliage at the front, and edged in black. The underside is recessed with several vent holes.


History note: Bought from Mr Acton at Brighton on 12 October 1905, for £4.10s (four pounds ten shillings), by Dr J.W.L. Glaisher, Trinity College, Cambridge.

Legal notes

Dr J. W. L. Glaisher bequest, 1928

Measurements and weight

Height: 27 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Longton ⪼ Staffordshire ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

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


19th Century, Early#
Circa 1818 - 1825


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. These early figures are moulded, perhaps with moulded or modelled parts added, the bases often formed separately. After around 1810-1820, figures are often more vibrantly coloured and by c.1835 earlier methods had largely given way to three-part press-moulding, enabling cheaper production of figures for a growing market.

The figure is based on a pair of lions which stand at the entrance of the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence, one a 2nd Century Roman figure and its companion sculpted by Flaminio Vacca in 1594. The lions were moved from the gardens of the Villa Medici in Rome to Florence in 1789. By the turn of the century, they were well known as small scale reproductions in stone, marble, plaster and bronze, which may have been used as a source for earthenware lions. These were probably intended as chimney ornaments or to be placed at opposite ends of a dresser or bookcase.

This is one of several similar Staffordshire lions in the Fitzwilliam collection. Dr Glaisher wrote in his notebook: ‘[it] is quite perfect, nothing made up. It was bought partly on this account, and partly because it is an interesting specimen with its red colour, and protruding tongue. Staffordshire lions are common though not often so large as this’.

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of enamels lead-glaze

Materials used in production

White earthenware

Techniques used in production

Moulded : Earthenware, moulded and modelled, lead glazed and painted with enamels.

Inscription or legends present

  • Type: No visible mark
  • Text: No 2350 Large Staffordshire lion (with protruding tongue) b. in Brighton Oct 12, 1905.
  • 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.993-1928
Primary reference Number: 76507
Old object number: 2350
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 15 July 2020 Last processed: Thursday 7 December 2023

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 (2024) "Lion" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-04-20 22:18:49

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{{cite web|url= |title=Lion |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-04-20 22:18:49|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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