Jester or Clown
Unknown, but presumably naval (see Vessel History)
© National Maritime Museum
Photo: © National Maritime Museum
On display in the All Hands Gallery, NMM
Polychrome-painted, restored, figurehead depicting a jester or clown, at full length but entirely armless, in a costume similar to traditional motley, with bells on the tunic, a cloak behind and a fool's cap. The words 'HERE WE ARE AGAIN' are inscribed on the supporting stem-post. This is a catch-phrase originally associated with the great pantomime clown Joseph Grimaldi (1779-1837), and the face might be intended as a likeness, though the costume is not the clown's dress in which Grimaldi is generally recorded.
H162.6 x W38 x D40.6 cms
Figurehead was presented to the NMM by the Admiralty in 1936 after residing in Rigging House, Davenport Dockyard.
The ship for which it was made is not known but was presumably Naval, since it was presented by the Admiralty in 1936 from the Rigging House at Devonport Dockyard. It may be from the wooden screw gunboat 'Clown' - or one of the class to which this gave its name - built by Miller at Liverpool in 1856. In 1867 'Clown' was converted to a coal hulk (later called YC1 and YC6) and was lost in 1871, though the circumstances remain to be investigated. The complete and undisguised lack of arms is unusual on such realistic a figure, however, if it was allowed to decay or suffer other damage the 'smoothed-off' shoulders may have been a form of tidying up rather than doing a more elaborate repair. (NMM negs: bow on B&W, 1957; starboard bow B&W/col tran. B3837)
Admiralty Catalogue(1911) No 427
National Maritime Museum
Royal Museums Greenwich, London SE10 9NF
Ownership can be cited online
Accessible to public
Data verified by owner