Large scale pottery figure of a muzzled  bear baited by a  ferocious  dog, late 18th century Staffordshire England
Large scale pottery figure of a muzzled  bear baited by a  ferocious  dog, late 18th century Staffordshire England
Large scale pottery figure of a muzzled  bear baited by a  ferocious  dog, late 18th century Staffordshire England

Large scale pottery figure of a muzzled bear baited by a ferocious dog, late 18th century Staffordshire England

1780 Staffordshire England

Offered by John Howard

£5,850 gbp
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A very rare large scale pearlware pottery figure of of a bear and dog.
The figure is about 12 inches high and depicts the chained beast being baited by the dog.
Such baiting "sport" was common in the late 18th century in England.
Thankfully baiting animals was banned in Great Britain in 1835.
The modelling is exceptionally strong and the figure provides a social insight into the 18th century, today the figure is a true expression of English folk art.
Fine condition with only minor historical wear commensurate with age.
With Jonathan Horne , Kensington Church Street, London England
re. Rous Lench Collection sold at Christies London 1990 lot 138 (similar figure).
Robert Laneham's letter describes the spectacle presented by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester at Kenilworth Castle in 1575 :

Thursday, the fourteenth of July, and the sixth day of her Majesty’s (Queen Elizabeth 1st)coming, a great sort of bandogs [mastiff] were then tied in the outer court and thirteen bears in the inner . . .

Well, sir, the bears were brought forth into the court, the dogs set to them, to argue the points even face to face. They had learned counsel also on both parts, what may they be counted partial that are retained but to one side? I know not. Very fierce, both one and the other, and eager in argument. If the dog in pleading would pluck the bear by the throat, the bear with traverse would claw him again by the scalp, confess and a list, but avoid it could not that was bound to the bar, and his counsel told him that it could be to him no policy in pleading.

Therefore, with fending & proving, with plucking and tugging, scratching and biting, by plain tooth and nail on one side and the other, such expense of blood and leather [skin] was there between them, as a months licking (I think) will not recover, and yet remain as far out as ever they were.
It was a sport very pleasant, of these beasts, to see the bear with his pink eyes leering after his enemies approach, the nimbleness and wayt [wait] of the dog to take his advantage, and the force and experience of the bear again to avoid the assaults. If he were bitten in one place, how he would pinch in another to get free, that if he were taken once, then what shift, with biting, with clawing, with roaring, tossing and tumbling, he would work to wind himself free from them. And when he was loose, to shake his ears twice or thrice with the blood and the slather about his physiognomy, was a matter of goodly relief.[1]
Dimensions
Height 10.50 inch (26.67 cm)
Width 12.75 inch (32.38 cm)
Stock Code
5479
Medium
pottery underglaze ceramic earthenware
John Howard

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