late 19th century (made)


Height: 7.5 cm, Length: 9.4 cm base

C.295-1983 CER

Fairing, porcelain painted in enamels and gilding, Germany, late 19th century

The body of the fairing is in white porcelain. The base is rectangular with two bands of gilding around it. There are two figures, a man and a woman in a bed which has broken, with bedding falling through the bottom. The woman lies with arms outstretched and legs in the air. The man holds on to the bedstead.

Information on this immensely popular area of 19th century production is remarkably scare and virtually the only serious research into fairings has been done by W. S. Bristowe, Victorian China Fairings, London, 1971, ed. Of the factories making them by far the most prolific was Conta and Boehme of Pössneck in Saxony. Founded in 1790 they specialised in small porcelain ares such as dolls' heads and, from about 1860, in fairground souvenirs of "fairings'. Many, but not all, are impressed with a crooked arm, the hand grasping a dagger, within a shield. The subjects were supplied form England, possibly by F & S Salaman, 136 Fenchruch Street, London, beginning as early as 1855. The sources are popular prints, song sheets and cartoons and many have been identified. The majority are captioned but many are not; a few are captioned in German and French but the scarcity of these proves that it was the English market which was the most receptive. The subjects vary from the innocent (playing children or simple jokes) to the saucy (bedroom frolics or frankly suggestive); from social record such a working children and early bicyclists to caricatures of the law or politicians. At the far end of the range there are portraits of well-known characters, both fictional and non-fictional and of war events such as wounded soldiers or representations of the great powers, as in the bear and turkey group.

Given by Mrs F. Dagg

Location: Ceramics Study Galleries, Britain & Europe, room 139, case 22, shelf 3

View this object on the V&A website