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Bust - Charity


  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Torquay (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1869 - ca. 1876 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Watcombe Pottery Co. (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Watcombe Terracotta Clay Co. Ltd.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This terracotta (baked clay) bust is not one of the known busts made for sale by Watcombe at Torquay, Devon, in south-west England, and may therefore have been a trial piece. It is based on a much admired marble statue of St Susanna in the church of S. Maria di Loreto, Rome, carved in the late 1620s by François Du Quesnoy. Stamped on the band beneath this bust is 'CARITAS' (Charity). François Duquesnoy (c. 1594-1643) was a Netherlandish sculptor who spent most of working life in Rome and assimilated the classical style. His tender and sensuous reliefs of cupids, satyrs and small children were highly influential.

Watcombe Terra-cotta Clay Company Ltd. was founded in 1869 (and continued business until 1883) by George Allen at St Mary's Church, Torquay, Devon. It capitalised on the rich deposits of red clay found whilst builders were excavating the foundations for Watcombe House. Christopher Dresser has been linked with the firm, for its products show similarities to Dresser's designs and sometimes carry ornament derived from his published works. The south Devon pottery industry grew rapidly during the latter part of the nineteenth century following the discovery of fine terra cotta clay at Watcombe in 1865.

Charity (lat. Caritas), literally means 'love', love in the sense of lovingness and kindness towards all others and is the foremost of the virtues. Charity is often represented with a flame, often coming out of some kind of vase, or she holds a candle. Often she is suckling to infants, or she is surrounded by three to four infants, one usually at the breast.

Physical description

Bust, red earthenware, with head inclined to the left. Drapery over left shoulder. Mark 'Watcombe Torquay' impressed. Number on '27' in gold leaf on socle. Remnants of a label inscribed. Stamped.

Place of Origin

Torquay (made)


ca. 1869 - ca. 1876 (made)


Watcombe Pottery Co. (maker)

Materials and Techniques


Marks and inscriptions

Impressed at the back

inscribed on remnants of a label

on socle in gold leaf

stamped on the band beneath the bust


Height: 56 cm

Object history note

Given by the Watcombe Terracotta Clay Company in 1901.

Descriptive line

Bust, terracotta, Caritas, produced by Watcombe Terra-cotta Clay Co Ltd, England (Torquay, Devon), ca. 1869-76

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

Bilbey, Diane with Trusted, Marjorie. British Sculpture 1470 to 2000. A Concise Catalogue of the Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2002, p. 425, cat. no. 698
List of Works of Art acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum during the Year 1901. Jermyn Street Collection. Part III, London: Her Majesty's Stationary Office. Wyman and Sons, 1904, p. 3

Labels and date

made by Watcombe Terra-Cotta Co., Torquay , Devon, England,

3742&A-1901 Given by Watcombe Terracotta Clay Company [23/05/2008]




Sculpture; Portraits


Sculpture Collection

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