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This is a charming Derby figure of a shepherdess with a garlanded lamb, made in or shortly after 1760. The figure is one half of a set called the "Garland Shepherds"; originally she had a male companion shepherd reciting a love letter to her. The item is incised at the bottom with an "N" and has three patch marks. It has beautifully fresh and light paintwork.


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 Duesbury 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. 


Derby started making this figure (and her companion) in about 1860. It is not known what the origin is, but it is assumed that it might have been a French engraving after Boucher. This is the first version of several Derby made, with relatively simple clothes painted in very fresh colours, and stood on a lightly Rococo-scrolled ground.


These figures were used to adorn the dinner table when dessert was served; groups of figures served to express something about the host, the guests, or to direct the conversation. One popular topic was an array of romantic rural characters, and this shepherdess is from one such series. A beautiful young shepherdess stands on a Rococo scroll, slightly stooping down to a lamb that is stood up to her in loving embrace, a flower garland around its neck. The figure looks like it previously had a shield of bocage behind its back, but this has either never been attached or it disappeared with the breaking point neatly painted and glazed over.


The figure has an incised "N" at the bottom, as well as three stilt marks from firing. There also is an incised "2", which is probably the number of this figure on a purchase order of many.


CONDITION REPORT: The figure is in beautiful condition with no significant damage, wear or repairs. Presumably, a bocage shield behind the back is broken off, or perhaps it was never added. A few bocage leaves are broken off and the breaking point of the missing bocage was neatly painted and glazed over. There is some kiln dust on the base under the legs of the lamb; this would have happened during the firing process. There are some very light repairs to the arms and hands of the shepherdess. There is a firing crack in the back of the bocage, which is also from production. The colours are very fresh and there is no wear.


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: Height 19cm (7.5").

Derby Figure of Garland Shepherdess with Lamb, ca 1760



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    We always aim to have happy customers so if you have an issue with or questions about your item, please contact us and we will do anything we can to resolve the issue with you!