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Figure

Figure

  • Place of origin:

    Burslem (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1790-1818 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Wood, Enoch, born 1759 - died 1840 (maker)
    Wood & Caldwell (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Lead-glazed earthenware, painted in overglaze enamels and moulded

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Lady Charlotte Schreiber

  • Museum number:

    414:1216-1885

  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 138, The Harry and Carol Djanogly Gallery, case L, shelf 1

The figure represents the Athenian orator Demosthenes (324-322 BC). The relief on the side of the plinth shows Hermes, messenger of the gods, who was associated with eloquence and reasoning; and this feature therefore also alludes to Demosthenes' oratorial skill.
The attribution to Enoch Wood's factory is based on similar figure with the mark 'E WOOD' in the Fitzwilliam Museum (inventory number C.900-1928). The V&A figure differs from the Fitwilliam example in that scroll does not overhang the plinth. The figure derives from a full-size plaster statue made in the 1750s in the London workshop of John Cheere, who later sold reduced sized casts of it. Wood could have obtained his cast from Charles Harris (died 1795), the owner of another London plaster shop. Harris's catalogue of about 1790 lists a model of Demosthenes, as well as several other subjects manufactured by Wood.

Physical description

Figure of Demosthenes, a bearded man in lead-glazed earthenware, painted in overglaze enamels, and emblematic of Eloquence. He is standing on an oblong black plinth leaning forward with his right arm outstretched, his left arm holding his mantle which reaches to the ground and is coloured purple with yellow lining. By his side is a square stone-coloured pedestal, moulded with a plinth and cornice, and on the front is a low relief representing mercury flying through the clouds, and Demosthenes speaking to the waves. Resting on the pedestal is a scroll covered with simulated writing.

Place of Origin

Burslem (made)

Date

ca. 1790-1818 (made)

Artist/maker

Wood, Enoch, born 1759 - died 1840 (maker)
Wood & Caldwell (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Lead-glazed earthenware, painted in overglaze enamels and moulded

Dimensions

Height: 46.9 cm

Object history note

Sometimes known as St. Paul preaching at Athens. The models is after a 1750s statue by the sculptor John Cheere.

Descriptive line

Figure of Demosthenes, a bearded man in lead-glazed earthenware, painted in overglaze enamels, and emblematic of Eloquence, made by Enoch Wood or Wood & Caldwell, Burslem, ca. 1790-1818.

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

Poole, Julia E., English Earthenware Pottery (Fitzwilliam Museum Handbooks) (Cambridge University Press: 1995), cat. 37, p. 84

Materials

Lead glaze; Earthenware; Enamel

Techniques

Painted; Moulded

Subjects depicted

Man

Categories

Ceramics; Earthenware

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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