This is a large 19th century English Minton figural group. There is a Minton impressed date cypher on the bottom for 1868, along with the impressed mark of "Minton."
The piece is made out of hard paste porcelain, or what the English term fine bone china. The measurements are approximately 18 ½" long, 7 ¼" wide and 11" high. The weight is approximately 16 pounds.
Minton produced four designs of wheeled baskets between 1868 and 1870, all of which were shown at the Vienna Exhibition in 1873. I believe there were two modelers (or sculptors) for the wheeled baskets, and they were 1)Albert Ernest Carrier (Carrier de Belleuse) and 2)Huges Protat. Both sculptors are significant and recognized artists, with achievements in France and England. There is one more impressed mark on the bottom, to the right of the Minton mark, which may be the mark of the modeler.
The wheeled basket, or cart, is pierced (reticulated.) A young girl is pushing the cart. Two young boys are pulling the cart. The figures may be vintagers.
I tried to find the shape number and title. The best I can do is go by the year and measurements, so the closest shape number and title is 463, "The Reader Flower Holder," modeled by Carrier. The length given is 17 ½", so there is a discrepancy with respect to length of one inch, but the year matches, and this figural group was produced in celadon and white. It may be that I was not supposed to include the rounded extensions at each end in the measurement. Otherwise, this figural group is not listed in the list of shapes for the Minton Figures. You won't find this figural group shown in the literature.
Carrier studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He came to work for Minton in 1848, and produced many pieces now residing in museums, many of which were shown in exhibitions. Carrier became the Artistic Director at Sevres in 1876.
Protat also came from France, and was the Modeling Instructor for Minton from around 1859 to 1863. When he left Minton, he started his own studio, and he continued to provide Minton with models up through the early 1870s. Much of Protat's work is in museums today also.
Note the early pate-sur-pate on the piece, around the base. Louis Marc Emmanuel Salon left Sevres in France to work for Minton in 1870, primarily to develop the technique of pate-sur-pate for Minton. However, Minton had already started the process in 1862, prior to Salon's arrival, producing celadon with white relief, molding the porcelain with white slip. This piece is an example of early pate-sur-pate against celadon.
Look at the clusters of white molded flowers and rope festoons around the basket, another attribute of the earlier white slip against celadon process.
There are bolts that go through the wheels, giving each wheel a little bit of movement. There are two metal bolts showing on the bottom. The top appears to be placed on top of the base and secured with a cohesive substance.
There are a few flaws. On the female at the rear, there are three professionally repaired breaks. One is the left handle of the basket at the bottom, the second is the handle up by the female's left hand, and the third is the girl's left foot. I point to these areas with arrows in one photo. The cluster of flowers on the side of the cart, closet to the girl's left side, one flower has a little bit off of one petal. It is very difficult to see because it is a white color. I point at this flaw with an arrow in another photo. The extensions on the front and bottom at the two ends show a little bit of rubbing wear, giving the glaze a little bit of roughness. Anything else is part of the glazing process or normal wear due to age.
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