This week I have a very fine Derby figure for you of a "Ranelagh" dancer from the 1760s. She would originally have come with a male companion - I am still on the look out to find him.
Her name comes from the Ranelagh Gardens in Chelsea, London. These were the most popular pleasure grounds. If you've watched Bridgerton on Netflix you will have seen the important role pleasure grounds played in 18th and early 19th Century society; it was where eligible ladies and gentlemen would show off their best frocks, charm and wealth. The ladies were, of course, accompanied by mothers and aunts who would carefully assess the gentlemen on their suitability and fiercely guard the honour of their charges.
The porcelain historian Peter Bradshaw writes in his book 'Derby Porcelain Figures 1750-1848':
"On 24 May 1759, a masked ball was held in Ranelagh Gardens, Vauxhall [sic, this should be Chelsea, which had the most popular pleasure ground, while Vauxhall was the second most popular pleasure ground] to commemorate the birthday of Frederick George, Prince of Wales. The colourful and often bizarre costumes of the guests prompted several contemporary engravings and one of these probably inspired some dozen Chelsea models that were made. Only two Ranelagh Dancers (E17) were created at Derby - a gallant... and a lady clad in a mantle and Court dress with plumes in her hair; the cameo suspended on a ribbon from her shoulder is believed to have been the token of admission to the festivities." (page 86).
This dancer is dressed in a beautiful colourful dress with a bodice lined with gilt thread; a pink fur cape and pink shoes with yellow clasps. I have seen several of these dancers and until now never found one that I truly loved, but this one stood out to me. She is made with extraordinary care; the fine face, the pale skin, the fresh colours, and her proud posture, holding a flower posy up in her hand.
With some luck I might find her an eligible gentleman - but in the meantime you can find her in my shop!
Where to find things
You can find all my Derby figures here, and all my available stock can be found here. If you always want to see the latest additions, follow me on Instagram... I post pictures and a story every single day.
And in the meantime...
Please give to Ukraine! 🇺🇦 A massive refugee crisis is emerging in Eastern Europe as millions of women and children are pouring out of Ukraine every hour of the day and night. Your gift will help relieve some of the suffering. You can give to one of the large organisations such as the Red Cross, the IRC, Save the Children, Médecins Sans Frontières... they will make your money count where and when it is needed most. Or if you prefer to give to people who work directly with refugees, check out this wonderful project of a trusted friend of mine, who started a place in Warsaw where small children can come for lunch, play, language classes and psychological support: https://zrzutka.pl/en/hatx9t.
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Happy weekend, and enjoy the first signs of spring! 🌸🐥🌷
The Rotunda at Ranelagh Gardens in Chelsea near (now in) London by Thomas Bowles, 1754
This week's new treasures: