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Figurine

  • Place of origin:

    Derby, England (made)

  • Date:

    ca.1765 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Derby Porcelain factory (makers)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Porcelain, glazed, enamelled and gilt

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased from Delomosne & Son Ltd.

  • Museum number:

    S.76-1988

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

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This figurine of William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is based on the life-size white marble statue by Peter Scheemakers in the monument designed by William Kent, erected in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey in 1740, 124 years after Shakespeare's death, sponsored by the Earl of Burlington, Dr Mead, Alexander Pope and Mr Martin. Shakespeare is buried in Stratford upon Avon and although some time after his death there were suggestions that his remains should be moved from Stratford to Westminster Abbey, the idea was abandoned and the monument was built. The carved heads on the pedestal of the statue are of Queen Elizabeth I, Henry V and Richard III, and Shakespeare is shown pointing to a scroll inscribed with Prospero's Act IV lines from The Tempest:
The Cloud capt Tow’rs, The Gorgeous Palaces, The Solemn Temples,
The Great Globe itself, Yea all which it Inherit, Shall Dissolve;
And like the baseless Fabrick of a Vision, Leave not a wrack behind.
The speech is perhaps better known with the words that begin the passage : 'Our revels now are ended'. On the original monument the words are in Latin.

The Derby factory produced three versions of this figure in the late 1750s to mid-1760s, often sold as a pair with one of John Milton. There was a glazed version on a rectangular base, and one in biscuit porcelain. Its direct source was probably a reduced-sized plaster of the sculpture sold in London by John Cheere.

Physical description

Polychrome glazed Derby figure with gold overglaze of William Shakespeare (1564-1616), wearing fanciful Van Dyke dress of white tunic and knee breeches with detail outlined in overglaze gold, a pink-lined cape, white stockings and ribbon-laced shoes, is standing with his right leg crossed over his left, standing on a scrolled base, also decorated with gold lines. He leans his right arm on books piled on a pedestal, while his left hand points to the scroll unfurled from the pedestal on which can be read lines from Prospero's Act 1V sc.i speech in The Tempest 'Our revels now are ended.'. The column of the pedestal is decorated with the heads of Henry V, Richard 111 and Queen Elizabeth 1.

Place of Origin

Derby, England (made)

Date

ca.1765 (made)

Artist/maker

Derby Porcelain factory (makers)

Materials and Techniques

Porcelain, glazed, enamelled and gilt

Marks and inscriptions

The Cloud capt Tow’rs, The Gorgeous Palaces, The Solemn Temples,
The Great Globe itself, Yea all which it Inherit, Shall Dissolve;
And like the baseless Fabrick of a Vision, Leave not a wreck behind.

Dimensions

Height: 28.0 cm

Object history note

A figurine of the poet Milton is a similar pose was originally produced as a companion piece to this.

Descriptive line

Figurine of William Shakespeare (1564-1616), based on the life-size white marble statue by Peter Scheemakers in the monument designed by William Kent and erected in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey in 1740. Porcelain, Derby Factory, c.1765.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

The Old Derby China Factory by John Haslam, (1876), p.176
The version of this figure in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, no.305 in Haslam's price list of groups and figures, sold for £1.5s.0d originally, enamelled and gilt, and £1.11s.6d in biscuit porcelain.
Eighteenth Century English Porcelain in the Collection of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana by Catherine Beth Lippert, (1987), pp.130-133

Associated names

Shakespeare, William

Production Note

Based on the sculpture by Peter Scheemakers (1681-1761) in the monument designed by William Kent (1685-1748) and erected in Westminster Abbey in 1740. Its direct source was probably a reduced-sized plaster, such as those stocked by John Cheere in London.

Materials

Porcelain; Glaze

Subjects depicted

Shakespeare, William; Elizabeth I (Queen of England and Wales); Richard III (King); Westminster Abbey; Henry (V, King of England)

Categories

Porcelain; Entertainment & Leisure; Figures & Decorative ceramics

Collection code

T&P

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Qr_O108792
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