Parian bust of Clytie

Stoke-on-Trent, England, AD 1881

Inspired by a Roman marble sculpture in The British Museum

Clytie was a character in Greek mythology who became jealous of her lover, the sun god Apollo. To punish her, he transformed her into a sunflower so that she would always face towards him in his daily journey across the skies. The subject of Clytie, normally depicted as the head of a woman emerging from a sunflower, was popular among both classical and neo-classical sculptors. This version was based on a celebrated Roman marble bust from the Charles Townley collection, acquired by The British Museum in 1805.

From 1855 onwards the Staffordshire firm of W.T. Copeland & Sons (now known as Spode) made copies of this sculpture in Parian, a new type of ultra-white unglazed porcelain which closely resembled a type of marble from the island of Paros. Parian porcelain, which had been invented by Copeland in 1844, was a popular medium for domestic sculpture during the second half of the nineteenth century, enabling the widespread dissemination of celebrated images. These busts were originally issued as prizes by the Art Union of London in 1855, but they proved so successful that they remained in production until at least 1900. Several other manufacturers, including Minton, produced similar models.

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Parian bust of Clytie

After cleaning (side)


More information


J. Rudoe, Decorative arts 1850-1950: a c, 2nd ed. (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)

P. Atterbury, The Parian Phenomenon (Shepton Beauchamp, 1989)

C. Shin and D. Shin, The illustrated guide to Victo (London, Barrie and Jenkins, 1971)


Height: 33.700 cm
Width: 24.500 cm

Museum number

M&ME 1991,6-12,1



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