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This is a very charming pair of porcelain figures of a stag and a doe, probably cast  by Derby in about 1760 and decorated by Bloor Derby in 1820. The figures are a simple white porcelain with restrained gilt accents.

The Derby Porcelain factory has its roots in the late 1740s, when Andrew Planché, a Walloon Huguenot refugee, started making simple porcelain toys shaped like animals in his back yard. In 1756 Staffordshire enameller William Duysbury and banker John Heath started a new porcelain factory with Planché and this was to grow out to the largest factory of its time, buying up the bankrupted Chelsea and Bow factories, as well as the stock of several other workshops including that of James Giles. The combination of various traditions, porcelain making skills and sophisticated clients enabled Duesbury to create one of the best porcelain factories of the 18th and 19th Centuries, which after many ups and downs is still operative today.


In 1811 the factory came under the ownership of Robert Bloor, and this started the "Bloor Derby" era. The company was in financial trouble and Bloor had to find a way to turn it around. He found a huge stock of items that had been rejected over the years, but that were perfectly fine to decorate and sell. These figures were probably part of that hoard.


Derby made many animal figures in the 18thC, and the stags and does were popular in polychrome. This pair was decorated in simple white with gilt - very much in the Neoclassical taste.

Figures like these were used to adorn the dinner table when dessert was served; groups of figures could serve to express something about the host, the guests, or to direct the conversation. Allegory was a popular pastime and every well-respected society figure was expected to be able to identify the seasons, trades, elements, senses or Greek and Roman gods and goddesses. Another popular topic was the pastoral life, so there are countless shepherds and shepherdesses with associated dogs, sheep and deer.


Neither of the items are marked, which is common for this period, they do have the numbers 2 and 3 inscribed, which are not shape numbers so it might have been batch numbers.
CONDITION REPORT: The stag has its antlers professionallyreplaced and it has some soot baked into the glaze, from production. The doe has her right leg replaced, some restoration to her ears, and has some overall crazing. Both have some light wear to the gilt and there are some tiny losses to the bocage. Other than this the figures are in very good condition and they look stunning. Please study the images carefully.

Antique British porcelain is never perfect. Kilns were fired on coal in the 1800s, and this meant that china from that period can have some firing specks from flying particles. British makers were also known for their experimentation, and sometimes this resulted in technically imperfect results. Due to the shrinkage in the kiln, items can have small firing lines or develop crazing over time, which should not be seen as damage but as an imperfection of the maker's recipes, probably unknown at the time of making. Items have often been used for many years and can have normal signs of wear, and gilt can have signs of slight disintegration even if never handled. I will reflect any damage, repairs, obvious stress marks, crazing or heavy wear in the item description but some minor scratches, nicks, stains and gilt disintegration can be normal for vintage items and need to be taken into account.
There is widespread confusion on the internet about the difference between chips and nicks, or hairlines and cracks. I will reflect any damage as truthfully as I can, i.e. a nick is a tiny bit of damage smaller than 1mm and a chip is something you can easily see with the eye; a glazing line is a break in the glazing only; hairline is extremely tight and/or superficial and not picked up by the finger; and a crack is obvious both to the eye and the finger.
DIMENSIONS: The stag is 9cm (3.5") long, 5cm (5") deep and 9cm (3.5") tall; the doe is slightly bigger than that. It is normal for figures of this era to be slightly different in size.

Bloor Derby pair of porcelain figures, stag and doe, ca1765-1820



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