Rare early Derby figure of Minerva, pale family C. 1758

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Very rare Derby figure of Minerva, from the ‘Pale Family’ group, modelled standing in classical armour, a Medusa head shield in one hand, her other raised to take a spear, an owl seated on books to one side, on a low circular base decorated in rococo scrolls, the whole painted in a limited palette of green, puce, and yellow. Circa 1758

Condition

Firing flaws throughout, with original factory repairs before final firing; head re-stuck, finger & thumb restored.

Size

30cm high; base 20cm wide

References

Ref. Bradshaw B25, with B24 - Mars - as the companion. A pair sold at Bonhams, 5 Dec 2007 lot 281. This is a very rare form for Minerva, and was paired with Mars on these large rococo plinths. Derby made a Minerva with shield on a plain base, in the dry-edged period (1750-55). This was apparently absent the owl; the later 1760 issue of Minerva also lacked the owl, as noted by Twitchett in his DERBY: an illustrated guide - where he illustrates a later figure with the caption: ‘A fine early figure of Minerva, C. 1760-65 - Note that although this model has the shield with Medusa’s head, the owl and books have not yet been produced’. The dry-edge Minerva illustrated by Bradley in Ceramics of Derbyshire doesn’t have the owl, but has this same base. This example has the owl & books, proving there is an earlier origin than previously thought. This example has characteristics of the so-called ‘dry edge’ period, 1750-55. The decoration, however, is quite distinct, and places it into the so-called ‘pale family’, 1756-9. Firing pads (patch marks) are evident from pale patches on the base, further refining the date to post-1757, pre-1759.

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