Although brass hearth ornaments were made in the 18th and 19th centuries in England, many do not exhibit the quality of workmanship and artistic merit of this pair of St. Bernards. The dogs are so well modeled that their breed is easily identified. Of course, the brandy barrels beneath their huge heads are unmistakable clues. That they are both standing on plinths with a flower head motif frieze gives these pieces an added decorative element. All these attributes attest to the great attention to detail in this pair.
These dogs are mid-Victorian examples of superb metal work of the foundries. During Victorian times much of the metal work was hand-finished in the foundries, as was this pair.
The brass has acquired a very attractive soft gold color and patina. The mellowing of the brass could only occur from a century-and-a-half of polishing. The photographs do not do justice to these pieces.
Their condition is excellent for their age and type. There is some degree of both darkening in spots where the indentations in the metal work are, and some very light surface scratching. However, these imperfections lend these pieces character and add to their overall decorative presence and charm.
Each measures 7 inches high and 9-1/2 inches wide, and the depth at their bases measures 1-3/4 inches. Each weighs about 3-1/4 pounds.
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