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Girl-in-a-Swing factory’s Holy family


This group shows the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child with St Elizabeth and the infant St John. The infant Christ reaches out to touch the face of St John, who kneels on his mother’s lap. The composition reflects the so-called Small Holy family in the Louvre, a design by Raphael, which was disseminated through prints. The delicate face and graceful pose of the Virgin in the porcelain group are characteristic details of the Girl-in-a-Swing factory’s anonymous modeller. Only one other example of this group is recorded. 

The rare porcelains from the Girl-in-a-Swing factory were first identified as a group in William King’s Chelsea Porcelain, 1922, and are named after a figure in the Victoria & Albert Museum. They include about twenty-five figure subjects, a very few small useful wares, and numerous ‘toys’, particularly scent bottles with tiny animal and human figures, some of them closely related to Chelsea models. Bernard Dragescu, researching French archives, has recently established that the Girl-in-a-Swing factory almost certainly belonged to Charles Gouyn, a Huguenot émigré jeweller who was also involved in the early phase of the Chelsea factory. 

Margaret Legge