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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 56, The Djanogly Gallery

Figure

ca. 1680-1685 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
Tin-glazed earthenware figures of the late 17th century are rare, though the survival of several similar examples made from slightly differing moulds does suggest multiple (but probably small-scale) production.

Use
Delftware figures developed from the white porcelain figures, imported from the Dehua kilns in China, that were usually made in pairs and placed on the mantelpiece. The figure of No-body is not one of a pair and was probably made as a novelty, to act as a scapegoat for any domestic accident. The character can be traced back to the ancient Greek legends of the poet Homer (9th century BC). It also appeared in the English play of 1606, No-body and Some-body, whose title page is displayed in the British Galleries (museum no. DYCE.6967). Throughout history Nobody has taken the blame when something goes wrong: 'Nobody did it'.

Materials & Making
The long tradition of British ceramic figures probably began with figures such as these. There was, however, a time gap of almost 150 years between the unsophisticated two-piece delftware figures and the popular one-piece Staffordshire 'flatbacks'. They were both made by the same process, in a press mould, the cheapest method of manufacture.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Figure
  • Figure
Materials and Techniques
Tin-glazed earthenware
Brief Description
Figure of 'Nobody', tin-glazed earthenware, possibly made in Southwark or Lambeth, ca.1680-1685
Physical Description
Figure of No-body with a pipe. The figure consists of a man's head attached to his legs with his arms protruding from his breeches. Round his neck is a falling band. He has stockings with garters and rosettes on his shoes and a round hat with one side turned up. All the decoration is in blue and manganese-purple.

Body colour: Buff.

Condition: Entire pipe and part of hat brim restored.

Glaze: Greyish white lightly crazed. Underside partially wiped clean of glaze.

Shape: Hollow interior and legs. (Alphabetic shape codes as used in appendix to Archer. Delftware. 1997)
Dimensions
  • Height: 24.1cm
  • Length: 12.2cm
  • Maximum width: 18cm
Dimensions checked: measured; 20/04/1999 by T.Bloxham Width of base 12.5cm; depth of base 9cm
Gallery Label
NO-BODY
The 1606 text of the play 'No-body and Some-body' was illustrated with an anonymous woodcut showing a man with no body. Potters working in London made ceramic figures of this popular character, probably basing them on a print or drawing. The Chinese porcelain figure made for export to Europe is probably a copy of one of these English figures.(27/03/2003)
Object history
Sothebys, c.1958 or 1959. Purchased from Mr H.M. Calmann, Pilton, Somerset, 1982. Made in Southwark or Lambeth, London
Subject depicted
Summary
Object Type
Tin-glazed earthenware figures of the late 17th century are rare, though the survival of several similar examples made from slightly differing moulds does suggest multiple (but probably small-scale) production.

Use
Delftware figures developed from the white porcelain figures, imported from the Dehua kilns in China, that were usually made in pairs and placed on the mantelpiece. The figure of No-body is not one of a pair and was probably made as a novelty, to act as a scapegoat for any domestic accident. The character can be traced back to the ancient Greek legends of the poet Homer (9th century BC). It also appeared in the English play of 1606, No-body and Some-body, whose title page is displayed in the British Galleries (museum no. DYCE.6967). Throughout history Nobody has taken the blame when something goes wrong: 'Nobody did it'.

Materials & Making
The long tradition of British ceramic figures probably began with figures such as these. There was, however, a time gap of almost 150 years between the unsophisticated two-piece delftware figures and the popular one-piece Staffordshire 'flatbacks'. They were both made by the same process, in a press mould, the cheapest method of manufacture.
Bibliographic Reference
Archer, Michael. Delftware: the tin-glazed earthenware of the British Isles. A catalogue of the collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: HMSO, in association with the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1997. ISBN 0 11 290499 8
Other Number
L1. - <u>Delftware</u> (1997) cat. no.
Collection
Accession Number
C.4&A-1982

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record createdJanuary 29, 2000
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