A Whimsical Pair of Large Early 20thC Papier-Mâché Polychrome Decorated Spaniel Dogs


Origin: English
Period: Early Twentieth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1900-25
Height: 28.75 inches
Width: 15.25 inches
Depth: 5.25 inches (all at maximum)

The unique large sized hand painted polychrome decorated models of seated spaniel dogs in wonderful floral sponged pigments of sky and peacock blues with filigree applied collars, brown flowing ears, goggling eyes and curled tails survive from the first quarter of the twentieth century.

Remaining in fair overall condition considering their relative fragility, the dogs do have some hairline cracks and areas of loss. On one of the dogs a crack has been fill repaired and matched in that runs around dogs shoulders from one side to the other with some chips to the ears and base. The second dog has numerous cracks to front and back with an area of papier-mâché missing to the back (at widest and highest part 23cm x 9cm). The dogs are hollow and were made over a chicken wire mould so these anomalies would be restorable if so desired. We prefer giving the client the choice with regards to restoration but if you wish the work to be undertaken after purchase please contact us for details.

Papier mâché became an industry in England in 1772 when Henry Clay of Birmingham took out a patent for its making and as a result produced the inexpensive plastic of its time, easily be molded into desired shapes. As indicated by its name, it was mashed or pulped paper, which was first, molded, then baked, to drive off the moisture that had reduced it to pulp. When it became firm and hard it was finished with an enamel-like coat of paint and was then ready for a wide variety of decorative treatment. This pair would’ve almost certainly been one offs.

Unmistakably unique, dazzlingly decorative, enormously eccentric.