"I expect that this Letter will accompany three Cases containing a Surtout of seven Plateaus and the ornaments in Biscuit Also three large Glass covers for the three Groups which may serve both for ornaments to the Chimney Piece of a drawing Room (in which Case the Glasses will preserve them from the Dust & Flies) or for the Surtout…The Vases may be used as they are or when Occasion serves the Tops may be laid aside and the Vases filled with natural Flowers. When the whole Surtout is to be used for large Companies the large Group will be in the Middle the two smaller ones at the two Ends the Vases in the Spaces between the three and the Figures distributed along the Edges or rather along the Side…To clean this Biscuit Warm Water is to be used and for any thing in little Corners a Brush such as is used for painting in Water Colours." - Gouverneur Morris to George Washington, January 24, 1790

At George Washington's request, Gouverneur Morris purchased "mirrors for a table" and "neat and fashionable but not expensive ornaments for them" while in Paris in January 1790. For the ornaments, Morris selected three classically inspired figural groups, twelve single figures representing the arts and sciences, and two vases from Dihl and Guérhard's factory salesrooms. The pieces' white, unglazed porcelain mimics the cool white marble of antique sculpture which, along with the classical subject matter, blended perfectly with the new nation's founding principles. When not being used for public and state dinners in New York and Philadelphia, Washington displayed this allegory of love and youth under glass on a sideboard. It is the only one of the three figural groups known to exist.

For the plateau, see W-105.


Figural group featuring Venus and two cupids in a landscape setting. Venus stands to the left. She is bare chested and wears a wreath of roses in her hair and a skirt around her waist. Her left arm supports a seated cupid with drapery around his waist, his right hand raised to his mouth and his left reaching for an arrow in quiver behind his back. A second naked cupid stands in the front right and gestures as if pulling a bow and arrow (now missing). Rocky landscape with rosebush growing to right of center. A basket of roses is placed to the right, a vasiform ewer or pitcher at front, and a quiver of arrows behind the standing cupid. Molded in several pieces.






Biscuit porcelain (hard-paste)


Overall: 15 1/4 in. x 12 7/8 in. (38.74 cm x 32.7 cm)

Credit Line

Purchase, 1957


Incised on underside: "A 2" (the 2 is a sub 2)

Object Number


Colors (Beta)

Mount Vernon's object research is ongoing and information about this object is subject to change. For information on image use and reproductions, click here.
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