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1760s (or older) English Porcelain 5 inch Figurine on plain base (Spring Putto)
Antique English porcelain Putto symbolic of Spring (one of the Four seasons) on a plain base with applied leaves in two shades of green, applied flower heads painted with egg yellow & black enamel and minimal additional enameled decoration dating from the late 1750s or 1760s. The subject is a young female child based on the braided hair (see detailed close up of braid) carrying a basket of flowers and wearing more flowers on her head and on a sash over her shoulder. She is leaning against or rather almost sitting upon a short tree stump and wearing a puce and soft blue drape across her left hip. The lack of painted details, the colors used and the simple base with applied leaves and flowers all indicate an early Figurine produced in the 1760s before the rococo craze altered English styles. Although this figurine has a minimal amount of painted details, those few details are expertly painted. For example, her brown hair is rendered in such detail that one can see exactly how her long braid is formed into a circle and then run up the back of her head before ending in a knot (see all photo close-ups). It is equally important to explain that her brown hair is not painted with a brush, but instead the details are formed by scratching with a fine needle to remove brown pigment to produce individual strands of hair and a woven braid. This method of using a sgraffito technique to give the illusion of fine hair on figurines was perfected by Meissen some 25 years earlier.
Other features on the figurine listed here help place it in the third quarter of the 18th century (e.g., 1750 to 1775). The girl's face is expertly defined with her eyebrows delineated with precise strokes from a single hair. Each eye brow is painted in brown and composed of 12 to 15 short curving brush strokes. The child's eyes have black pupils set within brown irises and there is even a small red tear duct for each eye. The girl's nose has her nostrils outlined in light brown and her lips are colored deep red. Other details include dozens of small applied flowers with six pedals each and bright yellow (egg yolk yellow) centers topped with a tiny dark blackish-brown dot. Other important characteristics include the use of two distinct shades of green to color the applied leaves: a common green (translucent grassy green) and a bluish-green (weak turquoise green). The flowers are enameled in soft blue, deep purple and blood red. Several of the blood red flower pedals display very fine details only possible from using a fine single hair brush and making 25 to 30 individual brush strokes (see close-up photos of flowers).
This figurine appears to be solid and made from press-forming rather hollow-formed or slip cast. And so it feels heavier than other figurines of the same size that are not solid. There is a hole pierced into the solid base that also has a firing crack emanating away from it (see photos; crack is stable and part of original production; basal hole may be for affixing the figurine to a larger base, stand or holder). The glaze on this figure has no crazing and appears mostly grayish where it is thickest (also appears slightly bluish-gray along base). As for how this figurine was assembled, it was composed of at least two main parts, the base with its stump and the young girl whereas the girl was likely assembled from five individual parts (head and four limbs). Added to these main parts are 29 thin leaves, 23 flower heads and a handled basket. The figurine is also very modestly painted with light flesh tones added to accent her toes, knees, hands, belly button, chest and cheeks. The absence of fully painted limbs and torso along with the plain (unpainted) tree stump also reflect the early preference for plain figurines in England whereas the small applied and painted leaves and flowers were a carry over from first period productions where covering up black spots and firing flaws with applied pieces was a necessity.
This figurine shares characteristics with several early English soft paste porcelain factories. The paste is grainy with translucency only evident in the thinnest areas (a leaf under the girl's right hand and extending out from the basket is translucent). The simple plain base with a large pad mark underneath, glaze qualities along with the specific enamel colors used to decorate the figurine share affinities with Bow, Chelsea and Derby Figurines produced in the 1750s and 1760s. I will leave it up to the next owner to determine exactly which factory made this particular item. There are no factory or makers marks on this figurine and this is also common for its early period of manufacture (see Godden's 1992 Guide to English Porcelain; also see Sandon 2002; Bernard Price in Negus 1983:pp 282 to 299; Atterbury 1982; Twitchett 2002; etc., etc.). In fact, pre 1775 figurines with makers marks and lots of gilded decoration or overly fancy rococo bases are more suspect regarding authenticity than the plainer type of figurine offered here. We also fully stand behind our antique items and so the buyer may return this Figurine so long as they comply with a few simply requirements (e.g., any item damaged by shipping is insured and so must never be sent back since that would void the original insurance; see our Return Policy for all details; certain shipping costs & fees are nonrefundable). This is a wonderful example of early English soft paste porcelain with no major damage or repairs (see full Condition notes farther below). An original auction/curation label with the printed number `674' on it will be included along with the figurine (this tag is old and was removed to make sure it did not cover up any important marks or damage).
SIZE: This figurine stands about 5 1/8 inches to the top of her head. The oval base measures 2 1/4 by 1 7/8 inches. The item weighs about 6 ounces and it is the perfect size for displaying on a shelf, along a mantle, table top, out in the open or in a china cabinet.
CONDITION: This figurine is in good condition considering its fragile nature and great age and the body and base have no chips, hairlines, major stains or major scratches. Wear is minimal and repairs are limited to two flowers while another 21 flowers are original and not restored. In all, only four of the 21 other flowers have minor edge chipping along the outer ends of their pedals whereas another two flowers are fully restored and these are the flower covering the figurine's left ear and the flower held in her left hand). Also, the thin round handle on the basket appears to be restored (see photos). The only other damage is very minor and limited to the loss of six leaf tips along the leaves in the basket and five leaf tips on the base (rough breaks are evident on these leaves). Another 18 leaves are completely intact and have sustained no losses despite their fragile characteristics (see all photos). As for the young child, just the very tip of her index finger on her left hand may be repaired (see photo close-ups). Finally, there are no major production flaws and the base has an original short firing crack that is stable and centered on the hole pierced into the tree stump. There are a couple of dark firing spots on the base and there is a small chip along the edge of base that occurred when the clay was still soft (the chip was subsequently covered by glaze during original production). The glaze itself is shiny and exhibits no crazing. And so a better early English porcelain figurine would be hard to find today without paying hundreds of dollars more than what is asked here. English soft paste figurines from the 1760s and earlier typically run $650 to $1100 ( for the earlier ones) when they are in a condition similar to this example.
SHIPPING: All US mainland buyers pay $12.70 for well packed and insured USPS Priority Mail (this is an estimated savings of about $1 to $5 since insurance & tracking are also INCLUDED in the above quoted amount for all mainland US addresses). If you live in Texas or in an adjacent state, simply email me for a revised quote. No handling or packing fees are ever charged and fragile items will be double boxed for maximum protection. All international buyers will pay only the exact shipping costs for all verifiable locations outside the continental US mainland. Insurance against loss or damage is not available on International First Class Parcels (limited to 4 lbs maximum weight), International Economy shipping or International Priority Shipping. Importantly, we will only ship this fragile item using an international shipping option with insurance against loss or damage (email us for an insured shipping quote). We have shipped fragile items to 23 countries around the globe to date and have not had any items lost or broken, however this fact does not guarantee that no postal mishandling will ever occur in the future. Also, please note that International import duties, taxes and other charges are not included in the item price or shipping costs and these additional charges are the Buyer's responsibility. We do offer a petition for VAT relief on the behalf of the buyer which may help reduce certain import taxes should your country allow such petitions for items over 100 years old. Please check with your country's customs office to determine what these additional costs will be prior to purchasing this item -- thanks.
RETURN POLICY: Satisfaction and peace of mind are guaranteed for all Docs Antiques Ruby Lane listings -- please refer directly to our Service Pledge and our Return Policy for full details. And this means that if you are unhappy with your purchase, then you may return it by sending the item back undamaged and post marked within seven days of original receipt for a refund (certain shipping costs are non-refundable). Items damaged during shipping are covered by insurance and while this rarely happens because we double box, we will gladly help you file your insurance claim should it ever be necessary (to date, we have had only two claims for damage from shipping in over eight years). Of course, never send an item back that was damaged by shipping since that will void the original insurance. Instead, contact us for help and we will gladly assist.
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Dr. Moir, Frisco, TX
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