Very rare Chamberlain’s Worcester figure of a stylish ‘Continental Peasant’, c. 1820
Very Rare Chamberlain’s Worcester figure of a ‘Continental Peasant’, with a well dressed lady in long high-waisted white dress with red cord standing, with a tartan cloth sash continuing onto her head with eight high loops arching above her to form an elaborate headdress, lon a low plinth base with gold line, the whole superbly coloured.
16.8 cm high
ref. Geoffrey Godden ‘Chamberlain Worcester’ p243 for several similar figures, with this example being a more sophisticated character; there is a milk-maid, a depiction of ‘The Broom Girl’, and a charming girl extending her hand with a dish. This is noted as belonging to John Broad Esq. in 1982 – but John Sandon illustrates the same figure in his 1993 ‘Dictionary of Worcester’ where he notes it is in the collection of Geoffrey Godden!
That figure is called a ‘beggar girl’ because of the dish, but she is a very well dressed beggar with a large gold cross & chain around her neck…. so there’s probably an untold story behind her image.
Images from publications were probably the source for these ‘foreign beauties’, and several have been tracked to the illustrations by Hippolyte Lecomte in his book ‘Costumes Suisses’ – showing Swiss traditional costumes on young maids very similar to this figure – and ‘Costumes de différentes nations’, published 1818.
These Chamberlain figures were the finest of their kind in the early 19th century, and are obviously all by the same sculptor. They are particularly well painted. They share the same face, and attention to detail such as the folds of fabric. They are all on low plinths with gilt lines, and have no added ‘ground’ mound like some other figure makers of the time.
Rockingham also made figures – in the case of the milk maid, inspired by the same exact print, or copied from a Chamberlain’s figure, see Cox ‘Rockingham’ p332. Derby also made figures at this time, often taken from the same inspiration, and many Derby figures are ‘cloned’ at Rockingham – but they differ in decoration and are not as precise in their detail.
The difference between Chamberlain’s and Rockingham figures is very slight, but looking at marked examples it is possible to see a difference in the sculptor’s interpretation of the prints. Rockingham figures tend to be more ‘condensed’ in stature, with a healthy ‘plump’ look to the ‘Continental Peasants’. The Chamberlain sculptor gave an impressive Regency grace to even the milk-maid, and that gracefulness is seen in this elegant figure.
No comparable figure to this could be found, and no definite source print, although several Hippolyte Lecomte costume prints are very similar – there is probably a little-known source print still to be found.