23 September 2011

Spode and Dogs

I saw this beautiful Art Deco greyhound in a private collection whilst in Scotland recently and was allowed to photograph it for use here. It was produced by Spode as part of the new Velamour range introduced in 1932.

Possibly designed by Eric Olsen (more about him on the O page of my Spode ABC), it is cast from a mould for which the original model was so exquisitely modelled that the greyhound's ribs are clearly detailed! Although not famous for the style Spode did Art Deco very well and figures and surface patterns were produced in high quality designs. 

Velamour printed backstamp
Impressed K number backstamp
The stylised shapes in Velamour suited this simple creamy white matt glaze. The production of this range was interrupted by the Second World War (1939-1945) when restrictions were placed on pottery companies in terms of their production. After 1947, when Velamour came back into production the greyhound was one of the items which was discontinued. Pieces in the Velamour range were marked with a specific printed backstamp as can be seen in the illustration. If you look carefully you can sometimes find an impressed shape number beginning with a K. The large greyhound has shape number K448 also illustrated.
Catalogue page, 1930s
A small greyhound was produced in a sleeping position, which can be seen in the catalogue page, with shape number K449. This one is is also exquisite and fits in the palm of your hand. I have only ever seen one. Figures in the range were often derived from items which had been produced by the firm in the 19th century. They were using their archive of papers and pots to produce new designs to follow the latest trends. In this case a pair of greyhounds in life-like style. In the 19th century pair one dog has its paws straight out in front and the other has it paws crossed. I have seen these undecorated in beautiful Parian ware, which imitates marble, and also in earthenware painted in natural colours. A page from an old catalogue for Velamour is also shown here with some of the other attractive Art Deco animals as well as the two greyhounds bottom right of the page. A leaflet page from 1963 can be seen under V on my Spode ABC. More about Spode greyhounds can be found by clicking here.

Other dogs were produced in the 19th century including bloodhounds in Parian ware and also a full size earthenware pug which used to sit in my office at Spode! Dogs feature in Parian groups too. There are several surface patterns which feature dogs including, in the 20th century, patterns O2155 and O2156 of about 1938 with Scottie dogs and spaniels respectively.
A quirky connection between Spode and dogs is that the artist Sam Spode (1798-1872) specialised in paintings of racehorses and greyhounds. He was the younger son of Samuel Spode in turn the younger son of Josiah Spode I founder of the Spode company. By coincidence I have recently been working for The Public Catalogue Foundation and you can see some of the outcome of their work partnering the BBC here Sam Spode paintings in public collections.

An even quirkier connection between Spode and dogs is if you Google 'Spode greyhound' you will find that not only are there paintings by Sam Spode, or attributed to him, but you will also discover that there are many show greyhounds today including the name Spode!

For information on Sam Spode the artist please see the magazine 'Antique Collecting' (October 2011 ISBN 0003-584X pages 10-15) which includes Peter Roden's excellent article with a number of full colour images of paintings.