Large Derby figure group, newly identified as ‘Prudence and Discretion’ no. c. 1775

$2,750.00 AUD

Large Derby porcelain figure group, recently identified as ‘Prudence and Discretion’, modelled in the round with a tall slender obelisk topped with a gilt orb & encrusted with a leafy vine, the rocky mound base with a broken column, and figure of a standing girl with a green snake, the other side with a seated boy with dagger & cupid with finger to lips, the whole with green leaf encrustation.

Incised marks ‘N 98’, ‘2’, ‘L’
Circa 1775

25cm high

Condition: very minor restorations & losses, including: sword & sickle replacements, snake’s head, minor losses to leaves displays well.


We have suggested the identity of this group, using the original factory lists reproduced in Bradshaw’s ‘Derby Figures’ book.

This figure is incised ‘N 98′ – indicating its entry in the factory figure list.

Bradshaw lists figure ’38’ and ’98’ as ‘not identified’. Interestingly, they are both referred to in the earlier Haslem figure lists as ‘Prudence and Discretion’, with #38 being 5.5 inches and 98 11.5cm . The individual figures on this large group measure just under 5 inches, and allowing for a base, would be right on the recorded 5.5 inches – as two separate figures, one a blindfolded boy with dagger, the other a girl with a snake.
#98 – also ‘not identified’ in Bradshaw, but listed as ‘Prudence and Discretion’ is obviously a large group, measuring 11.5 inches high. While this group is 1 inch shorter, there is a very similar multi-figure group (marked ‘No.1’, and also not recorded by Bradshaw!) in the Rosenberg Collection, Geelong, that measures this larger size; the figures are the same scale as this group and just the rocky-mound base is larger. Another example is illustrated by Bradshaw p164, (‘not identified, No Derby group is known that is incised No.1’) located in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, and this has a strong resemblance to our group, notably the identical central obelisk with garlands, incised panel, and gilt ball on top.

In fact, the similarity between this ‘N98 – Prudence & Discretion’ group, and ‘N1 – Minerva crowning Constancy and Heracles killing the Hydra’ – is so close – including the unusual Classical Allegorical subjects – these two may have been intended as a complimentary pair.
They were intended as table centerpieces, with the figures arranged around the central obelisk to face the diners seated either side of the table.

ref. Bradshaw p180 for a discussion of the two separate figures, Prudence with the mirror & snake, and Discretion as Cupid with his finger to his lips.





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