Staffordshire ‘The Lion Slayer’ Flatback
There are mixed messages in this Staffordshire flatback. The ‘Lion Slayer’ is so nonchalant about what he has done that I suspect either a completely lack of empathy or am minded to not actually believe that it was him that committed the act. I’m also not entirely convinced that a cape, kilt, sporran and knee length socks are the kind of carb that it would be useful to be wearing if that was your hideous activity of choice.
The figure might be based on Roualeyn George Gordon-Cumming (1820-66) who was a big game hunter and is listed in Gordon Pugh’s Staffordshire Portrait Figures as having ‘danced a waltz of life and death holding on to the tail of a hippopotamus’.
All of that being said it is a handsome piece and you can hope that the lion is just acting dead and will shortly take its revenge. The painting of the piece is really characterful and as with most flatbacks is blank on the reverse side. It is also an impressive size and would look magnificent on a mantelpiece.
There is a firing crack to the reverse, ie one that happened in the process of firing the piece in a kiln rather than it being damaged subsequently, and, as it is on the back of the piece, it isn’t really noticeable. This piece probably dates to the 1850s.
Depth (front to back): 11cm