A extremely rare and highly important Chelsea-Derby Portrait model of a Toy Spaniel


Circa 1769-70

A extremely rare and highly important Chelsea-Derby Portrait model of a Toy Spaniel standing on an oval base picked out in green, its coat and hair beautifully modelled in high relief, finished heavily undercut and painted with brown markings, its face with an alert tantalising expression.

This model Illustrated by John Twitchett, Derby Porcelain (2002), p.125, colour plate 71. Another similar model is illustrated at colour plate 71. The model represents a papillon, a toy spaniel also called a Phalène when its ears are dropped as seen here. The model was produced at Chelsea in the raised anchor period. Two examples of the Chelsea version are recorded, one from the Katz Collection in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (accession number 1988.801), the other has just been re-discovered in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle, it has been examined and handled by ourselves. The Katz model is compared by T H Clarke, French Influences at Chelsea, ECC Trans, Vol.4, Pt.4, p.53 with a similar Vincennes model which may have been its inspiration, shown at pl.26c.

There had been a tradition in France at the Vincennes porcelain manufactory of producing special models usually for members of the Royal Family, see the example of a Toy Dog inscribed with the name ‘Sophie’ around its collar, within the H.J.Hyams collection and now part of the Capricorn Foundation at Ramsbury Manor, Wiltshire. ‘Sophie’ is a reversed variant of the model still preserved at the Sevres Manufactory and illustrated by Emile Bourgeois and George Lechavallier-Chevignard: Le Biscuit de Sevres, recoil des models de la Manufacture de Sevres au XVIIIe siecle, no. 143, pl. 04 of which a white example was exhibited by Winifred Williams in ‘Eighteenth Century European White Porcelain’, June 1975, no. 20.

Length: 8 3/4 Ins (22cms.)

Further Details
In this catalogue it was suggested that the model might depict one of Madame de Pompadour’s poodles and there is a striking resemblance between the model and one of her poodles as depicted on a lid of a rare Sevres porcelain box at Waddesdon, illustrated by Svend Eriksen in the Catalogue, pl. 42 a. Sophie, like the Chelsea Derby Toy Spaniel should be regarded as a ‘Dog Portrait’, a commemorative model sculpted as a a special commission probably to capture in essence a faithful royal or aristocratic Pet Dog. The name ‘Sophie’ has been suggested to be the name of the Dog itself but it seems much more likely that it represents the owner, Madame Sophie, one of the four maiden daughters of Louis XV who completed her convent education in 1751 and appeared at that point at the Court at Versailles.

The Toy Spaniel therefore is born in an important royal and aristocratic tradition of immortalising their favourite and beloved Dog as a touching commemoration. The animal appears also to be related to the famous model of Trump and both Chelsea pieces may be by the same modeller. It is likely that the Derby version has been revived by William Duesbury produced from the Chelsea mould after his takeover of the Chelsea manufactory in 1769-70. Eighteenth century English porcelain animal models on this scale are most unusual. Certainly with a surviving Chelsea model of the type of Dog favoured in the Royal Family since the time of King Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria and still within the Royal Collection of her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle, this points to the most important of all special commissions.

Stock No. 1899

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