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

Boys playing cricket

April 2024

This is a pair of Staffordshire figures of unidentified boys playing cricket, standing 6 ½” and 6 ¾” tall, dating to around 1850. 

Tom King and Dick Turpin

March 2024

This is a fine pair of Staffordshire figures of Tom King and Dick Turpin, probably originating from a theatrical production.  Note the four separately moulded legs on each horse. 


February 2024

This is a theatrical figure representing an actor in the role of Artabanes, from the opera Artaxerxes. The figure stands 11 3/4” tall, dates to approximately 1830-1840, and is very rare. There is a dagger in his right hand, part of the blade being hidden beneath his sash.  The interior and the edging of his coat are fully lined with ermine.

Napoleon III with Prince Albert

January 2024

This is a figure of Napoleon III with Prince Albert, each with a drum on the ground and to the side.  The figure stands 10 ¾” and dates to about 1854.

A pair of clowns

December 2023

This is a fine pair of Staffordshire clowns, both standing 6 ½” tall, dating to circa 1860.  Each is wearing pantaloons, with the figure on the left holding a cane. 

Scottish hunter

November 2023

This is an interesting example of a Scottish hunter, wearing kilt and underglaze blue coat, with a dog at his knee and a rifle resting near his right hand.  The figure stands 14 ¼” tall and dates to about 1860.


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