Model of a Pug Dog, Derby, soft paste porcelain, c.1758-60


This small example of early Derby porcelain is naturalistically painted and modelled as a pug seated on its haunches, wearing a red collar to which are attached golden yellow bells. The collar is fastened with a puce and yellow bow at the back of the neck, and a puce pendant hangs from the front. The pug's coat shows the distinctive markings associated with the breed. The low mound base is moulded with shallow rococo scrolls, highlighted with puce, green and yellow enamels.

Three patch marks to the underside of the base.

The pug's ears are shown cropped, which was the fashion across Europe, as can be seen in van Loo's portrait of the Princess Ekaterina Dmitrievna Golitsyna, painted around the time this model was made in Derby.

In 1740, Clemens August of Bavaria (1700-61) founded the Order of the Pug, a secret society of Catholic Freemasons, and the first masonic order to admit women members. The pug gave its name to this order, as in courtly circles it was a symbol for loyalty. The order's insignia was a light blue collar with golden bells. This partly accounts for the popularity of the pug in porcelain, particularly at Meissen, and later Bow and Derby.

The gentle nature of pugs, combined with their aesthetic appeal and oriental origins, ensured that they remained a desirable, fashionable breed throughout the Eighteenth Century.

Condition: Very good - no chips or cracks, just restoration to the tail, which has been done to an extremely high standard. There are fully-glazed slithers surrounding the hole in the base, dating from manufacture. One characteristic of early Derby (and also Gold Anchor Chelsea) is the pooling of thick glaze during firing. This would often cause wares to stick to the saggar, after removal from the kiln. This solid glaze had to be ground down from footrims and bases in order to make them sit level, and there is evidence of this to the underside edges of this model.

Dimensions: Height 6 cm

Derby Porcelain 1750-1798, H. Gilbert Bradley (1990).

Derby Porcelain 1748-1848, John Twitchett, (Antique Collectors' Club, 2002).


Click on thumbnail above to see larger image

Portrait of Princess Ekaterina Dmitrievna Golitsyna, by Louis-Michel van Loo (1759) © Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow