Picking mushrooms in silk shoes
In the 18th Century the dessert started to become the most decoratively elaborate course of dinner parties. This makes sense, if you think about the fact that once people have filled their stomachs and had a few glasses of wine, conversations become lively. And as the dessert is the last course, it will make the strongest impression on guests, particularly if they are in a jolly state of satisfaction. So for the dessert, a host would pull out all the stops: the porcelain dessert service was usually more lavish than the dinner service and the table would be adorned with flowers and porcelain figures.
These figures could be following a theme that could either be random or very carefully chosen to give a message or guide the conversation. If a marriage needed to be arranged, perhaps you needed a collection of figures expressing the five virtues, or a matrimonial theme. If a host wanted to impress his or her guests with the power and plenty of their landed wealth, they would bring in shepherds and animals. And so the famous shepherd series was born: shepherds playing music, selling flowers, reciting love letters, or picking mushrooms.
This was of course the time of the Rococo and romanticism, and of Marie Antoinette who had her own idealised farm at the palace of Versailles. As modern life started to encroach on people's rural peace there was a longing for the good old times, when things were simpler and the countryside was untouched. But if you were rich, you didn't necessarily want the poverty, mud and disease that usually came with that "simple" rural life, so the shepherds produced at the German and English porcelain factories were well dressed and rosy-cheeked.
And so it happened that you could find shepherds picking mushrooms in gold brocade breaches, traipsing through the muddy moors on silk shoes, and letting sheep stand up against their richly embroidered dresses. Chelsea, Bow and Derby made lots of wonderful figures and their outfits are absolutely amazing; an inspiration to any urban hipster dandy. I always love checking out the fine details: the buttons, the ribbons, the hats, the shoes, the brocade and embroidery... I've had quite a few of these come through my shop, and some came and went so quickly that I never managed to show them to you.
Today I have a wonderful newly available pair of Garland Shepherds from about 1765, him reciting a love letter to her (can you read what's on the letter? Something about Love and Eternity? Please tell us if you can make it out!) while she is placing a garland around the neck of her ewe. I still have the wonderful Edmé Samson piper for you, as well as one Derby Garland Shepherdess with her ewe but without her lover. There's also a Derby recumbent ram and a Bow goat and her kid. I've already sold the Chelsea flower seller, the Bow piper and that wonderful pair of Derby candle sticks. But there will be new ones now and then as I am always on the lookout.
Enjoy looking at these beautiful pieces, and if you are interested in investing in one you can find them here in my shop. You can find all my available 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.
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Happy weekend, and if lockdown will let you, go pick some flowers in your silk shoes! 🌸🐏👠
This week's new treasures:
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