Figure of the month

Rinaldo and Armida

January 2020

The characters of Rinaldo and Armida are from Torquato Tasso’s poem “La Gerusalemme Liberata” (Jerusalem Delivered) circa 1581. The poem’s tale is one of love and heroism in battle during the First Crusade (1096-1099). The sorceress Armida is sent to kill the knight Rinaldo, but instead falls in love with him and bewitches him. By 1600, the poem had been translated into English, and it was to remain popular in England into the nineteenth century, inspiring music, plays and numerous paintings. Notably in 1711, Handel’s opera “Rinaldo” was London’s first Italian opera.

Acknowledgement:  Myrna Schkolne, Staffordshire Figures 1780-1840 Volume 2, page 4

Anthony van Dyck made two paintings of this subject. His 1629 painting and the Derby figure of the late 1770s show Rinaldo with his eyes closed. Coincidentally in 1629 Poussin also painted the subject with a sleeping Rinaldo. These portrayals depict the moment at which vengeful Armida finds Rinaldo asleep, but overwhelmed by his beauty is unable to kill him.

However, in van Dyck’s 1634/5 painting of Rinaldo and Armida, Rinaldo’s eyes are open. The scene painted by Van Dyck shows a tender moment between the couple before Rinaldo’s comrades, who are approaching in the background, disturb their idyll and compel Rinaldo to return to the fight. This earthenware figure also shows Rinaldo’s eyes open, as Armida dangles a laurel crown over his head, although the laurel crown is sadly missing here.

Anthony van Dyck’s 1634/5 painting is now in the collection of the National Gallery, London, where you can read more about the subject and examine a high resolution image of the painting.

More Figures of the month

Lord Raglan

June 2023

This is a very rare and desirable titled Staffordshire figure of FitzRoy James Henry Somerset Raglan, aka Field Marshal Lord Raglan.  The figure stands a little over 13” tall and dates to around 1854.  It may be found in Pugh’s 1987 edition of Staffordshire Portrait Figures, page 258, and in Harding Book One, page 121.

Pair of white cats

May 2023

This is a rare pair of seated cats, approximately 13 ½” tall.  They are decorated in bright gold and date to around 1870-1880.  Harding Book Two illustrates this impressive pair on page 239.  

Tiger and lion

April 2023

This is a rare figure of a tiger and lion lying in front of a palm tree.  Circus acts with wild animals became very popular in England during the 1830s and it is possible that this figure as well as other animal figures commemorated these events. 

Lady Godiva

March 2023

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.

Lost Piece

February 2023

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.

William Shakespeare

January 2023

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.


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