A Pair of Staffordshire Figures Mandane and Artabanes circa 1836
made by John and Rebecca Lloyd of Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent
A very fine pair of theatrical staffordshire figures.
Some thirty years ago as a relatively young man,
I was under the spell of Staffordshire figures and used to visit
the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke on Trent
every two or three weeks and simply marvel at the pottery,
in particular the Victorian Staffordshire figures of the Pugh collection.
One of the figures that always stood out was a figure of Mandane,
E.296 Theatre, Opera, Ballet and Circus in the book
Staffordshire Figures Of The Victorian Era by P.D.Gordon Pugh.
It is impressed 'Lloyd/Shelton and I simply could not believe the quality.
When I first saw this pair of figures in the flesh, my heart almost missed a beat!
I began to examine them, they just looked fantastic from every angle.
Viewed from any side they look great.
Look at the ermine edges to the cloaks, I had never seen any better.
They look nearly as good from the back,
beautifully shaped cloaks bellowing out.
The colour as
Anthony Oliver describes in Staffordshire Pottery The Tribal Art Of England
"….the yellow was not bright but a sort of subdued Cornish cream."
The gilding is extraordinary; it leapt out, perfect, beautifully applied
……and its everywhere !
We can have no doubt that they were indeed made by John and Rebecca Lloyd of Shelton
and they show every attribute of their work;
the pottery, the modelling, the superb range of well-fired enamel colours,
the cobalt blue, the gilding and the quality.
For an excellent summary of their work read
Staffordshire Pottery The Tribal Art Of England by Anthony Oliver,
chapter 6, a lovely book.
John and Rebecca Lloyd were master potters.
I will quote Anthony Oliver's final paragraph;
"Even though their style and material was different the Lloyds,
like Sherratt before them,
were the true chroniclers of the lives of ordinary people in England.
Their world was the pub and the travelling menagerie in a land where lovers were sailors
and village girls not Venus kneeling in a shell with Cupid.
They may have been a bit heavy handed with the gilding on some of their figures
but at least they knew where they lived.
There is no doubt that John and Rebecca Lloyd,
together with some of their unrecorded contemporaries, made some of the finest
and most neglected figures ever to come out of Staffordshire".
This pair must be among their best,
they are big and imposing,
they are about 12 inches in height.
See the picture below with the Lloyd classic, Van Amburg.
It has in the past been suggested these figures are 'Miss Paton as Mandane'
as on a known lithograph and possibly Mr.Wood as Artabanes,
performing in the Opera Artaxerxes.
This opera by Thomas Arne made its debut in 1762 at Covent Garden and was a huge success. Haydn was so impressed when he saw it that he said he,
"had no idea we had such an opera in the English Language".
It remained on the London scene for over 70 years, popular throughout the 1820's at Covent Garden and Drury Lane, it is a story set in Persia with power, love and murder.
In 1836, in a new theatre, St. James's in London, Artaxerxes was again performed
with Miss Rainforth as "Mandane," and Mr. Braham as "Artabanes".
I believe this pair could well be circa 1836 and a print of this date could well be the source.
You can imagine the moment;
as I continued examining the pair,
......the excitement grows as I search for restoration,
......and as I search for damage,
……there isn't any, wow they are perfect !
What a marvellous pair of figures.
How have they survived in such condition for over 170 years ?
Where have they lived for over 170 years ?
Aren't Staffordshire Figures wonderful ?
I have to ask the one question,
when you look at the picture below,
what was his dagger or sword made of ?
Height: 11.75 inches & 12 inches