Figure of the month

Rinaldo and Armida

January 2020

The characters of Rinaldo and Armida are from Torquato Tasso’s poem “La Gerusalemme Liberata” (Jerusalem Delivered) circa 1581. The poem’s tale is one of love and heroism in battle during the First Crusade (1096-1099). The sorceress Armida is sent to kill the knight Rinaldo, but instead falls in love with him and bewitches him. By 1600, the poem had been translated into English, and it was to remain popular in England into the nineteenth century, inspiring music, plays and numerous paintings. Notably in 1711, Handel’s opera “Rinaldo” was London’s first Italian opera.

Acknowledgement:  Myrna Schkolne, Staffordshire Figures 1780-1840 Volume 2, page 4

Anthony van Dyck made two paintings of this subject. His 1629 painting and the Derby figure of the late 1770s show Rinaldo with his eyes closed. Coincidentally in 1629 Poussin also painted the subject with a sleeping Rinaldo. These portrayals depict the moment at which vengeful Armida finds Rinaldo asleep, but overwhelmed by his beauty is unable to kill him.

However, in van Dyck’s 1634/5 painting of Rinaldo and Armida, Rinaldo’s eyes are open. The scene painted by Van Dyck shows a tender moment between the couple before Rinaldo’s comrades, who are approaching in the background, disturb their idyll and compel Rinaldo to return to the fight. This earthenware figure also shows Rinaldo’s eyes open, as Armida dangles a laurel crown over his head, although the laurel crown is sadly missing here.

Anthony van Dyck’s 1634/5 painting is now in the collection of the National Gallery, London, where you can read more about the subject and examine a high resolution image of the painting.

More Figures of the month

King of Sardinia

November 2022

This is a rare figure of Victor Emmanuel II, the King of Sardinia and later the first King of Italy.  The figure is titled with gold accented raised capitals, stands approximately 12 3/4” tall, and dates to about 1855.  It is probably a Crimean war figure, with Emmanuel being shown in military uniform. 

Bluebeard and Fatima

October 2022

This is a rare figure of Bluebeard and Fatima, approximately 12 1/2” tall, dating to 1858. Bluebeard is easily recognized with his blue beard. He stands upright with a knife in his right hand and left hand on his hip. Fatima is kneeling before Bluebeard with eyes cast upward toward him, hands folded in a prayer-like position.

Napoleon Bonaparte

September 2022

This is a very rare figure of Napoleon Bonaparte, approximately 8 ¼” tall, dating to about 1840.  He stands with arms crossed next to a pedestal with a cloak draped over it.  The base is decorated with an interesting marble effect, and it bears the title “N”. 

Fox and monkey

August 2022

What an interesting figure of a fox and monkey, 4 3/4” tall.  The figure is rare and probably represents one of Aesop’s Fables called “The Fox and the Monkey”. 

It is circa 1840, partially painted in the round, and has a solid base. 

Unidentified man and woman

July 2022

This is an interesting figure of a man and a woman, 7 ½” tall.  It would be unremarkable if not for the head peering out from behind the man’s left leg. 

Titania

June 2022

This is a very rare figure of a woman in full length dress and a floral headband, standing 8 ½” tall.  She holds a wand in her right hand and a posy in her left. 

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