A Rare Pair of c.1770-1800 French Polychrome Painted & Carved Fairground Figures

Origin: French
Period: Louis XVI
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1780-1800
Height: 17.5 inches & 17.75 inches
Width: 4.75 inches each
Depth: 3.25 inches (at maximums)

The rare pair of eighteenth century French fairground or showman's caravan carved wood figures of a gentleman and lady, with polychrome painted decoration both portrayed as standing, with caricature faces and possibly attired in the Oriental manner(?), the lady carrying a basket, survive from the last quarter of the eighteenth century.

The condition of the figures is as to be expected from these nomadic pieces that would have travelled through France, in direct exposure to the elements in all conditions. The figures have possibly been repainted over the years, they are scuffed and worn overall, with some worming and damage, particularly to the bases, though they are wonderfully decorative. They can be hung, as they have picture hook mounts, or with some support, displayed standing. The bases have losses so new stands could be made for them if so desired or the base ends could be partially restored if one wanted.

Many people are fascinated by fairground art and by the gorgeously painted and carved creatures that enchanted us from a young age. The world's finest collection of fairground art was amassed in the 1960s and 1970s by Lord and Lady Bangor when it was generally undervalued and underpriced. When Christie's auctioned their collection at Wookey Hole, Somerset in 1997, the sale attracted huge interest and massive sale results. Collectors flocked not just because of the finery of the collection, but because it is now quite rare to find or be able to purchase fairground art in the open market. Fairground art is highly collectable and the earlier it is, the better.

Fantastically decorative and tremendously evocative of the very early fairground, it is rare indeed to find carvings like this from the eighteenth century.