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Figure - Demosthenes


  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Staffordshire (probably, made)

  • Date:

    ca.1790-1810 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Wood, Enoch, born 1759 - died 1840 (maker)
    Cheere, John, born 1709 - died 1787 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Earthenware painted with enamels

  • Credit Line:

    Bought from the Haliburton Collection

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 138, The Harry and Carol Djanogly Gallery, case 14, shelf 3

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

Male figure in earthenware painted with enamels, in robes, standing beside a plinth decorated with the God Hermes in relief and on which lies a manuscript, painted to imitate writing but only 'PART VII' can be read.

Place of Origin

Staffordshire (probably, made)


ca.1790-1810 (made)


Wood, Enoch, born 1759 - died 1840 (maker)
Cheere, John, born 1709 - died 1787 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Earthenware painted with enamels


Height: 48.2 cm

Object history note

Purchased, Haliburton Collection

Descriptive line

Figure of 'Demosthenes', earthenware painted with enamels, probably by Enoch Wood, ca.1790-1810.

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

Halfpenny, Pat, English Earthenware Figures: 1740-1840 (Antique Collectors' Club: 1995), pp.159-162. ill.
Poole, Julia E., English Earthenware Pottery (Fitzwilliam Museum Handbooks) (Cambridge University Press: 1995), cat. 37, p. 84






Ceramics; Earthenware

Production Type

Mass produced


Ceramics Collection

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