A large treacleware flatback figure (or possibly a wall plaque), depicting a couple in peasant folk costume dancing the Polka. This is a very rare figure, it is the only example I’ve ever seen in person or in any ceramics literature.
The figure is solid press-moulded and is glazed both on the front and back, with only the small base unglazed. The couple are dancing upon an ornate plinth with columns at the corners and a large flower in the centre. The clay body is a pale yellowish buff colour. The figure does not stand up on it’s own, and it is therefore possible that, despite being glazed on the back, it was intended to be a wall plaque or possibly a stove tile. The treacleware glaze (“Rockingham” type brown glaze) suggests a British origin but it is also possible that it was made in continental Europe.
The Polka was originally a Czech peasant dance developed in Eastern Bohemia. It was apparently invented by a peasant girl, Anna Slezak, in Labska Tynice in 1834. It was composed to a folk song “Strycek Nimra Koupil Simla” (Uncle Nimra bought a white horse). The Polka was first introduced into the ballrooms of Prague in 1835. The name (pulka) is Czech for “half-step”. In 1840, Raab, a dancing teacher of Prague, danced the Polka at the Odeon Theatre in Paris. By this time the Polka had become very popular throughout Europe. It was introducd to England by the middle of the C19th and reached America at about the same time. Thomas Balch, in his book “Philadelphia Assemblies”, reported that Breiter’s band composed a new Polka for the occasion of the 1849 Assembly.
The couple dancing the Polka was a popular motif on later moulded lustreware jugs, but is very seldom seen on other forms.
This is a large and heavy item, which will effect international postage. Please contact me directly for an up-to-date quote for international postage.
Pot ID: AP/685
Dimensions: 373mm long/high.
Net Weight (grams): 2429
The figure has been broken in half in the distant past but was sufficiently valued by the owner who had it repaired with metal staples. The area around the staples has had a reddish filler added, possibly later, to hide associated chips along the repair. There is also a large shallow chip on rear of base/pedestal.