Toy spaniels were known in European upper circles from the 15th century onwards. Their popularity as lapdogs was particularly true during the reign of King Charles I and during the reign of his son, Charles II, who was often seen with two or three of the dogs at his heels. Hence the name, “King Charles Spaniel,” came to be.
The production of porcelain models of these dogs began around 1830. The major factories at Minton, Copeland & Garrett, Grainger Lee and Samuel Alcock, as well as numerous unidentified factories operating throughout Staffordshire, turned these dogs out until about 1850.
This fine quality pair porcelain King Charles spaniels are similar to that pictured as figure 13, page 89 in “Dogs in English Porcelain of the 19th Century,” by Dennis G. Rice. The pair shown in this book was made by Samuel Alcock, circa 1840-1850.
This pair is exquisitely modeled with much attention to detail. The dogs are seated on blue and white, elaborately molded cushions. Their eyes are well painted, as are the noses and red mouths. There is a good amount of feathering around the black spots of the dogs and also on the ears. Both dogs have two separate legs, along with nicely furred and separated tails.
They face each other, as they should in a true pair. The molding is such that it has created the look of fur all around the dogs. There even are indentations in the paws for their separate toes. The dogs sport large gold lockets and collars. Their muzzles are light pink in color. Although some of the painting embellishments on the bases has worn off, more so on the left dog, this additional painting accentuates the unusual bases.
The quality and condition of both are superb. There is very little paint loss overall; nothing more than one would expect for their age of some 170 years. The right dog possesses a cobalt blue “X” mark on the underneath of the base.
This handsome true porcelain pair is more than charming. With their delightful appearances and great detail, they are pieces of art from another era.
Each dog measures about 4 inches high, 3-1/2 inches wide and 2-1/2 inches deep.
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