• Popov_Bear_Behaving_Badly_3

I believe this playful figure group was made by a Russian Private Factory in the second quarter of the nineteenth century. I am looking for supporting evidence. It is unmarked.

There is a miniature of this subject illustrated in V. Popov’s “Russian Porcelain Private Factories” published in 1980. Identified as Gardner/Popov, the photo shows a scaled down version with the same figures on a different base.

It is ambiguous what the bear is doing with the object between its paws. Rather than as a rock to hit the man with as the seller saw it, I see the object as a bundle of belongings a traveller might carry. The man is a sailor who has taken rest in the woods. The bear is in the act of stealing his goods. The horse fly on the sailor’s forehead is a great detail. It’s bite could cause him to awaken abruptly and ‘bear’ witness to his surroundings. There’s got to be a story here.

One story this figure tells is puzzling. Someone has gone to great effort to remove something, probably a mark, from the underside. The porcelain has been deeply gouged post firing. No signs of a mechanical grinder so with a stone held in the hand. No mean task. It could be that this was a factory second made by Gardner or Popov that was sold off to another factory to enamel. I am hard pressed to come up with a better explanation though there could be one that escapes me.

Eyes open for that marked example that must be out there.

16 cm in height.