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Engraved Scene on Vinaigrette


I am not sure if this is the correct forum to post my question so apologies in advance if it’s not.

My question is about the engraved scene on this vinaigrette… a favourite in my collection. The vinaigrette was made by Joseph Willmore and assayed in Birmingham in 1842 but who is the recumbent character supposed to represent?

I have shown the piece to a few people and so far have had two suggestions though I am not entirely happy with either:

  1. A mythological woodland creature. I am not happy with this. If it’s supposed to be a faun or some such why are there no horns or hooves?

  2. Adam in the Garden of Eden. If so, then presumably he has all his ribs intact and is awaiting the arrival of Eve after a nap. This is not an entirely satisfactory explanation either. If I were a Victorian planning to engrave an edenic scene then I should most probably opt for a tree, Adam, Eve and some strategically positioned fig leaves.

Does anyone have another more plausible suggestion? All replies gratefully received.




Hi Argentius,

I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I don’t think it will ever be possible to know what or who that figure represents. It is possible that the piece was made on commission and the engraving is some kind of personal joke. But that really is nothing more than speculation.

What I can say is that a vinaigrette with a naked man engraved on the front is quite a rare design and certainly a good item for your collection.

Regards Jonathan


Thank you for your kind reply, Jonathan. Yes, it is rather a good piece and I am very fond of it. I did wonder (if Theory 2 above is correct) whether there exists a companion piece portraying a naked “Eve”. That would be even more desirable I should think.