Furniture Mount thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Ceramics, Room 139, The Curtain Foundation Gallery

Furniture Mount

c. 1755-60 (made)
Place of origin

Furniture mount of hard-paste porcelain and in the shape of a sea monster with an old woman's head and breast.

Object details

Object type
Materials and techniques
Hard-paste porcelain
Brief description
Furniture mount of hard-paste porcelain and in the shape of a sea monster or harpy, Doccia porcelain factory, Doccia, c. 1755-60.
Physical description
Furniture mount of hard-paste porcelain and in the shape of a sea monster with an old woman's head and breast.
  • Height: 6.6cm
  • Length: 9.5cm
Gallery label
FURNITURE MOUNT Porcelain In the shape of a sea monster ITALY (DOCCIA); 2nd half of 18th century 3887-1853 (Label draft attributed to John V. G. Mallet, ca. 1995)(ca. 1995)
Object history
Bandinel Collection.
Subject depicted
Bibliographic reference
Frescobaldi Malenchini, Livia ed. With Balleri, Rita and Rucellai, Oliva, ‘Amici di Doccia Quaderni, Numero VII, 2013, The Victoria and Albert Museum Collection’, Edizioni Polistampa, Firenze, 2014 pp. 60-62, Cat. 34 34. Figure of a harpy (furniture mount) circa 1755-1760 hard-paste porcelain h 6,5 cm; length 8,7 cm inv: 3887-1853 purchase: Bandinel Collection These objects (cat. 34-37) are inspired by Marine mythology and are characteristic of the production at Doccia between 1750 and 1765; they are mentioned several times in the factory inventories, especially as being part of table centre pieces. In particular various harpy figures are mentioned in the Inventory of Models (LANKHEIT 1982, p. 78, n. 5) and in the Inventory of Moulds where, in the Sixth Room at no. 7 there is “un degiuné di due arpie” (breakfast set with two harpies). Production of these pieces is also demonstrated in the warehouse inventories in Livorno compiled on June 7th 1757, where, on page 17, it mentions: “two satyrs each of which has two sphinxes”. Moreover, in the 1760 price list they mention sirens or sphinxes which are part of a centre piece (“sirene o sfingi, per servire di ornamento ai sortù”) which were sold unpainted at 4 liras a piece; in the same list there are others painted in colours which cost twice as much or a proportionate amount more (GINORI LISCI 1963, p. 308). A figure which is practically identical to cat. 34, 35 is in the de Tschudy collection in the Stibbert Museum in Florence (A. d’Agliano, in LE PORCELLANE EUROPEE 2002, p. 20, cat. 4). Two other similar ones are in the Museo Duca di Martina in Naples. The harpies (cat. 34, 35) are missing the shell which was meant to hold salt or other sweet or salty condiments. The figure in cat. 34 is modeled with particular attention to the facial features. The other two (cat. 36, 37) are shaped so that the shell is supported by the head and the tail. They are set on a small round Rococo base. The type of decoration and the range of colours used would suggest a slightly later date with respect to the other two. Both of the bases have the number “6” painted in red. The presence of numbers painted on Doccia porcelain has not yet been explained and no documents have emerged that clarify their meaning. For some of the painted numbers, Ginori Lisci has proposed a wide chronological range of between 1760 and 1820 (GINORI LISCI 1963, p. 322-323, n. 13, 19). For variations of these figures, see the examples at Ickworth (WINTER 2008, p. 32, fig. 20) and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (MUNGER 2007, p. 27, fig. 12). A. d’A. and N.M. Bibliography: unpublished
Accession number

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Record createdSeptember 25, 2009
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