manufacturer: Bow porcelain factory (estab. circa 1747, closed 1776)

circa 1755
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Object Detail

figure, Sailor’s Lass, modelled gazing over her shoulder, her pale yellow dress billowing open to reveal a flowered underskirt, holding in her hands a handkerchief to dry the tears of separation. The Royal Navy and marine trade were so vital to Britain, and employed such a large number of people many of whom would be away overseas for several years, that the love and loss of naval life was a common theme in 18th century art.

This figure relates to the Sailor’s Farewell, a depiction often printed on porcelain and pottery, showing a sailor bidding his lass farewell, before he leaves on another long journey, probably not knowing when or if he’ll return. He may be in the service of the Royal Navy or a seaman on atrading ship. there is also a corresponding depiction of the Sailor’s Return.

The figure in the exhibition depicts the sailor’s lass forlornly watching him leave with a handkerchief in her hand. Peter Bradshaw refers to this figure as a triste damsel, sometimes called the Lady with a handkerchief ... she is really a Sailor’s Lass.

Bernard Watney recalled that the model had been coupled with one of a Sailor in the sale of the collection of William Bemrose, at Nottingham in 1909. It has never been ascertained whether the object held by the wench is a handkerchief to dry tears of impending separation or a purse containing the ‘wages of sin’.
Maker and role
manufacturer: Bow porcelain factory (estab. circa 1747, closed 1776)
Production place
Bow, London, England
Production date
circa 1755
Media description
porcelain, clear glazed
185 mm
Measurement details
height: 185mm
Credit line
purchased with funds provided by the Nina Stanton 18th Century Porcelain Bequest, 2014
Project credit line
This digital record has been made available on TJC Collection Online through a significant donation from the OPENING DOORS fund, the generous support of The Friends of The Johnston Collection, and Digitisation Champion Christine Bell
Accession number


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