Giuseppe Garibaldi was an Italian soldier and patriot who helped unify Italy. In 1864, he visited England and was welcomed with great enthusiasm. Garibaldi and his “red shirts” were heroes in the story of Italian independence, and at least 16 different figures of him were produced by Staffordshire potters.
This figure is 8.5 inches high and can be found in Pugh page C295, plate 98, figure 285.
Garibaldi takes the biscuit
Garibaldi received a rapturous reception in England in April 1864. It is said that never before in history had there been such a large spontaneous gathering as the one that cheered him through the streets of London. Aristocrats and politicians vied for the opportunity to host and dine with him, whilst the middle and working classes expressed their admiration for the General by adorning their walls and mantelpieces with his image.
As well as the Staffordshire figures, Garibaldi also appeared on plates, cups and tankards and his name was adopted by pubs and taverns across the country.
But perhaps the most English of accolades was made by a Bermondsey biscuit company, who created the Garibaldi biscuit, a sort of currant sandwich made of sweet pastry. 150 years later and you will still find the Garibaldi being dunked into cups of tea, though it continues to be much loathed by children, who rechristened it ‘the squashed fly biscuit’.
More Figures of the month
This is a rare figure portraying Lady Godiva seated sidesaddle on horseback. The figure is titled “Lady Godiva” and is decorated in the manner of the Parr factory, with soft yellow, green, and brown brushstrokes.
This is an early Staffordshire figure of a woman standing on a grassy pedestal, with a coin in her extended hand. The figure is titled “Lost Piece” and represents the biblical verses found in Luke 15:8-10.
This is a gilt script titled figure of William Shakespeare with his right arm resting on a book atop a pedestal. Next to the pedestal is a sloped watch holder with a clock face painted inside, sitting atop a tree decorated with grapes.
Children on Saint Bernard dogs
This is a very rare pair of children seated sideways on Saint Bernards. More common figures have the children laying down or seated facing forward. Others have the rear arms moulded into the figures, instead of being separately moulded as these are. These figures are approximately 10” tall and date to around 1840-1850.
King of Sardinia
This is a rare figure of Victor Emmanuel II, the King of Sardinia and later the first King of Italy. The figure is titled with gold accented raised capitals, stands approximately 12 3/4” tall, and dates to about 1855. It is probably a Crimean war figure, with Emmanuel being shown in military uniform.
Bluebeard and Fatima
This is a rare figure of Bluebeard and Fatima, approximately 12 1/2” tall, dating to 1858. Bluebeard is easily recognized with his blue beard. He stands upright with a knife in his right hand and left hand on his hip. Fatima is kneeling before Bluebeard with eyes cast upward toward him, hands folded in a prayer-like position.