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NPG D48192 in 360°

The unrealistic black pigment used for Waters's skin colour was a convention in the depiction of Black sitters in ceramics at the time. From the eighteenth to twentieth centuries, the potteries in the county of Staffordshire in northern England produced an abundance of ceramic busts and figurines for display within the home. The majority of these were representations of well-known personalities and public figures but could also depict celebrities who gained popularity through newspaper stories about their exploits. The design for this figurine were based on prints in the press and demonstrates how celebrities could be memorialised through domestic objects.

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Billy Waters
by Unknown artist
glazed earthenware, circa 1840
NPG D48192
Photographs © National Portrait Gallery, London