In the 1750s, English potteries such as Chelsea, Derby and Bow began producing whimsical and allegorical figures for use in elaborate centerpieces then popular among the English and colonial elite. Placed in sugar-fabricated gardens and landscapes, lit by candles, and surrounded by glistening fruits and desserts, the doll-like porcelains delighted diners. These four figures arrived in the first shipment of goods George and Martha Washington received following their marriage in January 1759. George Washington did not request their purchase, but his London agents, Robert Cary & Company, clearly thought the colorful, Rococo-styled figures were a wise addition to the well-to-do newlyweds' table.

The presence of daffodils or jonquils in the man's basket and at his feet may suggest he is an allegory of spring.






Porcelain (soft-paste), enamel, gilt


Overall: 5 in. x 3 1/2 in. x 2 1/2 in. (12.7 cm x 8.89 cm x 6.35 cm)
Overall: 4 3/4 in. (12.07 cm)


Purchase, 1974

Object Number



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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