I search endlessly for figures and by now I have seen very, very many. So when I find something unusual, my heart skips a little beat. Nowadays, that doesn't happen often (fortunately for my heart and finances, if not my collection!)...but when I saw this set of Staffordshire figures, I felt that tell-tale flutter.
Pearlware figures depicting Faith, Hope, and Charity, available at time of writing from madelena.com, Madelena Antiques. Heights 7-1/4" to 8-3/4".
So what makes these figures special? Firstly, they are a set. It is really not that easy to find all three ladies together. Secondly, the figures are attributable to that master potter, Ralph Wood. And Ralph Wood made some fabulous figures--great modeling and yummy enameling over silky glaze. Just delicious all the way around.
How do I know these are Ralph Wood figures without examining them? Well, there are several clues detectable from this photograph.
1. The titling is in a font format associated with RW figures.
2. The rainbow coloring on the mound bases is found on other RW figures.
3. The line on the bases goes around only three sides of each base--Jo at Madelena confirmed this fact for me. Important because this is another RW decorative feature.
Any one of these features alone might not be enough to assure me of a Wood attribution--but put them together and I am certain. No wonder my heart skipped that beat when I saw these Staffordshire figures!
Fascinating Factoids about Faith, Hope, and Charity: These Christian theological virtues have traditionally been portrayed in art in female form, each accompanied by an appropriate attribute. Faith holds a book representing the Scriptures. Hope gazes heavenward; the anchor at her side originates from St Paul, which describes hope as “an achor of the soul.” (Heb. 6:19). Charity is believed to be the greatest of the virtues, embodying both love of God and others. Appropriately, the figure of Charity portrays these dual aspects. She nurtures children, and in some models one child sometimes holds a crucifix.