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Museum Treasures

'You Dirty Boy!', 1800s

A statuette from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society museum depicting a dirty boy being vigorously scrubbed was once used as an advertising model for Pears Soap.

'You dirty boy!' statuette, circa 1800s

Source: RPS Museum

This 19th century advertisement for Pears Soap is based upon a real scene observed in a Preston hotel 

Alongside medicines, pharmacists have also historically sold other products such as perfumes, cosmetics, and toiletries. This painted plaster statuette dating from the 1880s, titled ‘You Dirty Boy!’, is an advertising model for Pears Soap. The original marble sculpture was made by the Italian artist Giovanni Focardi and shown at the 1878 Paris Exhibition. The subject, described as “a gnarled old woman fiercely scrubbing a very dirty boy” is a scene the artist chanced upon while staying at a hotel in Preston. In order to replicate the boy’s expression while sitting for the work, buckets of water were thrown at him periodically.

Pears Soap was first sold in 1807 by A and F Pears of Oxford Street, London, and is still available today.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20205338

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  • 'You dirty boy!' statuette, circa 1800s

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