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Venus and Cupid seated on a Dolphin: EC.16B-1938

Object information

Current Location: Gallery 26 (Lower Marlay)


Venus and Cupid seated on a Dolphin


Factory: Derby Porcelain Factory
Proprietor: William Duesbury & Co.




Soft-paste porcelain figure of Venus and Cupid seated on a Dolphin painted in enamels and gilt.

Soft-paste porcelain figure of Venus and Cupid seated on a Dolphin, slip-cast, and painted over lead-glaze in blue, pale turquoise, bluish-green, green, pale yellow, pale orange, flesh, pink, purple, red, brown, beige, and black enamels, and gilt. The unglazed flat base has a large oval ventilation hole in the centre and three patch marks. The circular high mound base has a wavy edges, and pierced sides, decorated with applied seaweeds, and realistic shells of different shapes and sizes, naturalistically coloured. Venus and Cupid are seated on a dolphin facing to the right with water streaming from its mound down the side of the base. Venus faces to the front with her head turned to her left. She holds a billowing pink scarf with her left hand, and rests her right elbow on the dolphin’s tail, so that the right hand is raised. Her hair is brown, and she has a ruddy complexion and red lips. Her upper torso is nude, and round her lower body and legs she has a drape with a gold, red, and blue floral pattern and yellow lining. On each arm she has a gold bangle. Cupid is nude and winged, and has ruddy cheeks and red lips. He holds a small paddle behind him on which there is a small gold anchor mark. The dolphin has green scales, pale orange fins and tail, black eyes surrounded by pale turquoise and orange circles, and a pale orange mouth with black markings.


History note: Unknown before testator

Legal notes

Cecil Byas Bequest

Measurements and weight

Height: 24.5 cm
Width: 14.8 cm

Relative size of this object

14.8 cm24.5 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

  • Derby ⪼ Derbyshire ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1937) by Byas, Cecil E.


Third quarter of 18th century
George III
Gold anchor period (1759-69)
Circa 1760 CE - 1765 CE


The use of realistic shells and rockwork was a feature of rococo silver and porcelain. It also occurs on Derby centrepieces.

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of enamels ( blue, pale turquoise, bluish-green, green, pale yellow, pale orange, flesh, pink, purple, red, brown, beige, and black) gold
Surface composed of lead-glaze ( presumed lead)

Materials used in production

Soft-paste porcelain

Inscription or legends present

  • Text: an anchor
  • Location: On paddle behind Cupid's back
  • Method of creation: Painted in gold
  • Type: Factory mark

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: EC.16B-1938
Primary reference Number: 80749
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Tuesday 25 August 2015 Last processed: Thursday 4 May 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 (2023) "Venus and Cupid seated on a Dolphin" Web page available at: Accessed: 2023-06-08 02:08:36

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