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Bust of an Old Woman: C.1-1955

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Bust of an Old Woman


Maker: Unknown (Probably)




Maiolica bust of an old woman, painted in polychrome.

Pale buff earthenware, tin-glazed on the exterior; underside unglazed. Painted in dark blue, green, yellow, orange, manganese-purple, and black. Modelled in the round; hollow underneath.
The old woman faces front, her head inclined to her right. She has a broad, smooth brow, a large nose, high cheek-bones, wide-set eyes and a slight double chin. Her mouth is set in a wide grimace showing the gaps in her teeth. She wears a close-fitting cap, half green, half yellow, with blue zig-zag stitching on the seams and two blue strings hanging down at the back. Her dress has a low neckline edged in yellow, above which is the top of her chemise, edged in blue and orange. The bodice is partly blue and partly green at the front, and partly manganese and partly brown with a black spiralling pattern at the back. Her right sleeve is purple and her left has a geometrical pattern in orange, yellow and black. She has a square jewel on a cord round her brow and a string of beads round her neck.


History note: Benjamin Fillon by 1878; Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 22 March 1882, Catalogue des objets d'art et de haute curiosité . . . composant la collection de feu Benjamin Fillon, lot 289, and pl. p. 112. Henry Oppenheimer; Christie's, 15 July 1936, Catalogue of the highly important collection of Italian majolika and bronzes, jewels, enamels, ivories, sculpture and works of art formed by the late Henry Oppenheimer Esq., FSA of 9 Kensington Palace Gardens, W 8., lot 46; Louis C.G. Clarke.

Legal notes

Given by L.C.G. Clarke

Measurements and weight

Height: 20.9 cm
Width: 24.0 cm

Relative size of this object

24 cm20.9 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.

Place(s) associated

  • Faenza ⪼ Emilia-Romagna ⪼ Italy

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (1955-03-03) by Clarke, Louis Colville Gray


Late 15th century
Early 16th Century
Circa 1490 CE - 1510 CE

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of high-temperature colours ( dark blue, green, yellow, orange, manganese-purple, and black)

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Modeling (forming) : Pale buff earthenware, tin-glazed on the exterior; underside unglazed. Painted in dark blue, green, yellow, orange, manganese-purple, and black.

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: rectangular with cut corners

  • Location: On the back
  • Method of creation: Inscribed in black ink
  • Type: Label

Inscription present: rectangular loan form for the 1930 Exhibition of Italian Art

  • Text: `Bust of old woman' and `Henry Oppenheimer Esq. 9 Kensington Palace Gdns.'
  • Method of creation: Typed inscription
  • Type: Label

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.1-1955
Primary reference Number: 80702
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Friday 22 April 2022 Last processed: Friday 11 November 2022

Associated departments & institutions

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

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2022) "Bust of an Old Woman" Web page available at: Accessed: 2022-12-01 13:20:04

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{{cite web|url= |title=Bust of an Old Woman |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2022-12-01 13:20:04|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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