The Fitzwilliam Museum has recently been allocated the David Glynn collection of English parian ware statuary, totalling 360 pieces. Parian, a type of bisque porcelain imitating pure white marble from Paros in Greece, was invented in around 1845, and had the advantage over marble in being cheaper and easier to mass reproduce. The Glynn collection is mainly made up of busts or full-length portraits of famous men from ancient Greece and Rome, or well-known English ‘celebrities’, e.g. William Shakespeare, Lord Byron and members of the Royal Family.
In collaboration with the Department of Art History at Birmingham University, the Fitzwilliam will be applying to the Arts and Humanities Research Council for funding in order to fully document and research this collection of national significance. This project will result in a conference and a publication examining the manufacturing processes and social context of 19th-century parian ware, illustrated with pieces from the Glynn Collection.
The entire collection will also be put on display in the museum in the early part of 2018 as part of an installation by ceramic artist and curator, Matt Smith.