Artist unkown

About 1850

Staffordshire Pottery

Height: 39.8 cm

When people generally think of Staffordshire pottery dogs, they imagine a pair of seated black or red and white King Charles spaniels on a mantelpiece. This example could not be further from that misconception. This unusually-decorated figure looks unlike any dog breed, but is probably most likely to have been modelled on a poodle. The dog’s upright tail is finished with a shredded clay detailed pom, which this was a signature feature of groomed miniature poodles of the 19th century.

The artist has chosen to embellish the figure with a cream glaze, and afterwards splattered it with a russet brown glaze.

Ceramic Staffordshire dogs were generally sold in pairs, facing each other to flank the mantelpiece – a practice reflecting traditional associations between dogs, loyalty and vigilance. A pair of Staffordshire King Charles spaniels was arguably the most common form of Staffordshire pottery, having been popularized in the mid-19th century by Queen Victoria and her pet spaniel, Dash, and such dogs were subsequently mass produced in large quantities to satisfy popular demand. The size of this piece, however, means it is unlikely to have been part of a pair. Each Staffordshire figure was decorated individually by hand, giving the artists a certain degree to freedom to decorate pieces as they wished.