Dimensions: 6 × 3 3/4 × 3 1/2 in. (15.2 × 9.5 × 8.9 cm)
Classification: Decorative Arts, Ceramics
Credit Line: Gift of Ann and Henry Brunnier. In the Ann and Henry Brunnier Collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
The Bow Porcelain Factory was established in 1744 by glass merchant Edward Heylyn and partner Thomas Frye when the men applied to patent a new ceramic containing a clay imported from the American colonies called unaker. Obviously in the pursuit of the secret of Asian porcelain, the factory began to produce test firings and prototypes with designs copying mostly Chinese blue-and-white patterns. Bow made many figures which characteristically are charming and theatrical in nature. The earliest figures have plain bases, but became increasingly elaborate, eventually evolving into a raised foundation with scrolled feet, as seen on the male figure.
This English interpretation of Bacchus and a musician follows the Rococo style with bright colors and scrolled bases. Bacchus, the Greek mythological god of wine, also became associated with revelry, making a female musician a logical counterpart. She plays a hurdy-gurdy, a small musical instrument operated by turning a crank. Although the figures are obviously derived from mythology, their English interpretation includes common eighteenth century attire and popular colors reflecting society’s waning interest in nobility and increasing appetite for embellishment.