On a cold and bleak winter's day, what's better than beating the blues with a dose of doggie love? Today I have a story about pugs - and yes it involves jumping on faces, fashion and a fair bit of history.
The British potters of the 18th and 19th Century understood pet love, and they made wonderful little porcelain pets. These came of course as part of a huge collection of figures made in that era: shepherds, goats and sheep, figures representing the Seasons or various forms of morality... but the universally best loved ones are the pug dogs!
Derby of course made pug dogs, and Worcester. But the best ones, I think, were made by the Yorkshire pottery of Rockingham. While the Derby and Worcester pug dogs were quite ferocious, the Rockingham ones are sweet and slightly melancholic.
In the 18th Century there was hardly a lady without a pug, particularly in Britain and the Netherlands. Queen Victoria famously had a pug. So why were pugs so popular in the 18th Century? And how come they look different from today? There is, of course, a story to this.
It starts in 1568 with William the Silent, the Prince of The Netherlands, ancestor to the current Dutch King and founder of the modern state of The Netherlands. William led a rebellion against the Spanish Habsburg occupiers of Northern Europe. He had a pug, Pompey, who alerted him one night to an assassination attempt by jumping on his face to wake him up, saving his life. To show his gratitude, William the Silent made him the official Royal Dog of The Netherlands, kicking off a new fashion all over Northern Europe - it became a political statement of sovereign independence. His great-grandson William III, who about 120 years later became the much-despised King of England, Scotland and Ireland, took the fashion to Britain - this was of course an irony, as the pug dog originally symbolised sovereign independence! Today we see a new revival of pugs among the young hipster generation - our local London coffee house is full of them on a Saturday afternoon.
Over time, pugs were bred with shorter legs, bigger heads and more muscular bodies; the pugs you see here are slender and long-legged. In the pictures here you can see one set of a beige pug couple, and one single little white pug - they are just 2 or 3 inches tall. The little white pug looks different from the beige ones; when making these figures, the legs, tail and ears would have been attached separately to the body, which came from the same mould for all. The beige pugs received bigger legs, tails and ears than the white one, causing the white one to look more slender and vulnerable.
You can find them here in my shop (and you can see all my decorative items here), and if you always want to see the latest additions, follow me on Instagram... I post pictures and a story every single day 🐚🧜🏻♀️☘️.
Enjoy your weekend!
This week's new treasures:
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