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Figurine - King Lear

King Lear

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Worcester (made)

  • Date:

    ca.1853 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Hadley, James, born 1837 - died 1903 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Moulded Parian ware

  • Credit Line:

    Accepted by HM Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax and allocated to the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1996

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This figurine is made of Parian ware, the unglazed development of biscuit porcelain which became very popular after the Staffordshire firm of Copeland and Garrett introduced it in 1842 as a medium for busts, statuettes and reliefs. Several potteries marketed it under a different name but Parian ware became its generic name after Minton used 'Parian' to suggest Paros, the Greek island which supplied a lot stone used for Classical statuary. Parian ware was not cheap but gave households the semblance of owning a marble bust or figurine, previously only afforded by the very wealthy. The Worcester firm started their production of Parian relatively late, but after they launched a range at the Dublin Exhibition in 1853, James Hadley (1837-1903), their chief modeller, created a large number of decorative and useful wares for them, among them this figure of Lear in the storm scene on the heath in Act lll of Shakespeare's King Lear. Hadley left the firm in1875 but continued to supply designs for them on a freelance basis and set up his own factory in 1896, which amalgamated with Royal Worcester in 1905.

Lear is shown in his distress, raging against the storm and his daughters with the famous speech beginning: 'Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow! You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout'. There is a real sense of madness and movement in the modelling as Lear's hair and cloak is blown around him while he stands in defiance of the wind and rain.

Physical description

Parian ware figurine of King Lear, standing against a tree trunk on an integral base, the top of which is modelled to appear as earth. His eyes are staring and his hair and beard are flowing out to his left. He wears a knee-length tunic under a cloak which goes over his head and which is being blown about by the storm. His right leg, booted, is placed in front of his bare left leg. The figurine represents Lear in the storm on the heath, and is inscribed on the front of the base in impressed capital letters with the quotation: 'EVERY INCH A KING'

Place of Origin

Worcester (made)


ca.1853 (made)


Hadley, James, born 1837 - died 1903 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Moulded Parian ware

Marks and inscriptions



Height: 45.0 cm, Depth: 22.0 cm maximum depth, Width: 28.5 cm maximum width

Descriptive line

Figurine representing King Lear in the storm scene on the heath in Shakespeare's play King Lear. Worcester Parian ware, modelled by James Hadley (1837-1903), ca.1853

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

The Parian Phenomenon, a Survey of Victorian Parian Porcelain Statuary & Busts, published by Richard Dennis, 1989. Fig. 694.


Parian (porcelain)


Moulding; Firing (heating)


Entertainment & Leisure; Figures & Decorative ceramics; Parian ware


Theatre and Performance Collection

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