Figure of the month

The Vicar and Moses

August 2019

Myrna Schkolne in Volume 2 of her book “Staffordshire Figures 1780-1840”, has Chapter 109 entitled Religious Officials and Observers. She makes the point that the Church of England clergy in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries were high living at that time and were ready targets for ridicule. They were high living as many came from very wealthy families. The eldest son took the title and family estate whilst a younger son often became a priest or a vicar. As always the Staffordshire potter was quick to pick up on that.
There are in fact two pieces that are commonly referred to as The Vicar and Moses, but these pictures are of the piece which was modelled on William Hogarth’s illustration entitled the Sleeping Congregation, first published in 1736. It is also known as The Parson and Clerk. This piece portrays the parson dozing in the pulpit whilst the clerk earnestly addresses the congregation.

The Sleeping Congregation (1728/9), William Hogarth

This particular model will be early nineteenth century. What is interesting about this particular piece is that it has no base (nor appears ever to have had a base) which allows the collector to see how the Parson and Clerk were made and fixed within the model of the pulpit.

Base of the Vicar and Moses figure, showing construction

This model is illustrated in Myrna Schkolne’s book ref fig109.8 page 258. The height is 8.9”.
Acknowledgement:  Myrna Schkolne, Staffordshire Figures 1780-1840 Volume 2
This figure forms part of the private collection of Alan Sturrock.

More Figures of the month

Pair of white cats

May 2023

This is a rare pair of seated cats, approximately 13 ½” tall.  They are decorated in bright gold and date to around 1870-1880.  Harding Book Two illustrates this impressive pair on page 239.  

Tiger and lion

April 2023

This is a rare figure of a tiger and lion lying in front of a palm tree.  Circus acts with wild animals became very popular in England during the 1830s and it is possible that this figure as well as other animal figures commemorated these events. 

Lady Godiva

March 2023

This is a rare figure portraying Lady Godiva seated sidesaddle on horseback.  The figure is titled “Lady Godiva” and is decorated in the manner of the Parr factory, with soft yellow, green, and brown brushstrokes.

Lost Piece

February 2023

This is an early Staffordshire figure of a woman standing on a grassy pedestal, with a coin in her extended hand.  The figure is titled “Lost Piece” and represents the biblical verses found in Luke 15:8-10.

William Shakespeare

January 2023

This is a gilt script titled figure of William Shakespeare with his right arm resting on a book atop a pedestal.  Next to the pedestal is a sloped watch holder with a clock face painted inside, sitting atop a tree decorated with grapes.

Children on Saint Bernard dogs

December 2022

This is a very rare pair of children seated sideways on Saint Bernards.  More common figures have the children laying down or seated facing forward.  Others have the rear arms moulded into the figures, instead of being separately moulded as these are.  These figures are approximately 10” tall and date to around 1840-1850. 


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