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Europa and Leda - and a sale!

A while ago I came across a pair of truly spectacular and rare figures by Derby, which I had never seen before: Europa with the Bull, and Leda with the Swan. I offered them to a collector who now is the happy (and lucky) owner, and who has kindly agreed for me to show them to you - as I couldn't resist, they are so special! My special thanks to him.

I've written before about how these figures used to adorn the dinner table, telling stories or entertaining the guests. A popular theme was the Greek and Roman myths so there are plenty of figures of all the gods and goddesses. But these two... well they are very special ones.

Europa is shown here holding a large white bull, a wreath of flowers around his horns and neck and his tail swinging behind him. Europa was a princess in the Levant (what we call Syria today) who disobeyed her father and went to the sea to play with the dolphins. One day the Greek god Zeus (or Jupiter to the Romans), who was always on the look-out for pretty girls, spotted her and turned himself into a bull. He swam across the Mediterranean from his home island of Crete all the way to Syria and chatted her up, challenging her to ride his back. Europa, a plucky teenager who loved challenges, accepted and jumped onto his back. But instead of playing around on the beach, Zeus returned to Crete, abducting Europa on his back. The rest you can guess... however, this was the beginning of Europe!

You may have seen my annual holiday pictures of Crete on my instagram feed - I return every single year to the south coast of Crete, where Zeus would have brought Europa ashore and where Europe was started according to the Greeks and Romans. It is the southern-most tip of Europe.

The other figure is Leda, caressing a big white swan in her arms. This is a similar story... Leda was the young queen of Sparta, bored out of her head sitting on a throne doing nothing. Again Zeus spotted her and this time he turned himself into a swan, flew over to Sparta (in the Greek Peloponnese) and flung himself into her arms, saying he was pursued by an eagle. Leda took pity and gave him protection, however he seduced her and Leda bore several children who were hatched from eggs. One of those was Helen of Troy.

So both animals are Zeus or Jupiter. These two figures were clearly made together; they are painted in the same way and are the same size. What I find really amusing is that they look like two young mothers sitting on a bench on the playground, their toddlers on their laps, exchanging tips on childcare!

Thank you again to my client who was kind enough to share these beauties with you.

30% New Year Sale!

And now on to business.... there is a fantastic sale going on in my shop with over 160 items at 30% discount, including several larger tea and dessert services! So if you were eyeing something, now is your chance... if you want to snap up more than one item, let me know and I can send you an invoice with adjusted shipping cost.

The sale is only until the end of Sunday (11:59pm GMT) so you need to be quick... Happy shopping!

Where to find things

Europa and Leda are now gone, but I have plenty of other 18thC porcelain figures, some of them in the sale; you can find them here. You can find all my available items here, and if you want to stay up to date with new additions, find me on Instagram, where I put up pictures with a story several times a week.

with thanks to Tony Spacey


A small selection from the 30% New Year Sale:​



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