Martin Brothers An Important Unrecorded Pair of Figural Firedogs, 1876
Lot 3
Martin Brothers
An Important Unrecorded Pair of Figural Firedogs, 1876
Sold for £25,000 (US$ 38,839) inc. premium

Lot Details
Martin Brothers An Important Unrecorded Pair of Figural Firedogs, 1876 Martin Brothers An Important Unrecorded Pair of Figural Firedogs, 1876 Martin Brothers An Important Unrecorded Pair of Figural Firedogs, 1876
Martin Brothers
An Important Unrecorded Pair of Figural Firedogs, 1876
stoneware, each firedog modelled as a pair of humanised reptiles back-to-back, shackled to each other around the waist, one reptile spotted in blue glaze, the other with incised scales in cream glaze, raised on a shaped rectangular plinth
24.5cm high, one signed and dated 'R.W. Martin London 11-1876' (2)

Footnotes

  • Provenance:

    Acquired circa 1930 by a private family, Norfolk
    Thence by descent

    The current vendor's grandfather acquired these highly intriguing and important pieces of early Martin sculptural ware in the 1930s when he was head of a successful building firm based in Norfolk. Unfortunately the origins of the firedogs prior to this purchase are unknown, although they are likely to have been commissioned by an early supporter of the Martin's work.

    Such unique pieces as these are extremely scarce, especially from this early period, pre-dating their more renowned modelling masterpieces of the "Wally Birds", and yet the modelling here successfully achieves the humanisation of these fantastical creatures, and in doing so turning them into a satirical observation of the struggles of bondage faced by humanity.

    These firedogs must have been a specific commission from an important benefactor. Aligned with their discovery in the East Anglian region, it can be speculated that these were perhaps commissioned by one of the Barnard or Bishop families (from the Norwich based ironworks of Barnard, Bishop & Barnard) who were clear supporters of the ceramic art movement of the day who regularly incorporated Morris & Co. and William De Morgan tiles into their fireplaces, as well as Martin Brothers tiles, in the late 19th century.
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