“Whenever I see Bow figures I find them hard to resist. However, often the ones I find are so banged up or badly restored that I can’t really get involved in buying them… but these two beauties passed the test.
Meet Arlecchino and Columbina, two figures of the Commedia dell’Arte, an Italian comical theatre that inspired the English Punch & Judy. Although a whole lot more sophisticated than that… no endless fistfights but rather a musical serenade by bagpipes and hurdy gurdy. These are exceptionally clean and fresh even though they have some light damage.
What makes them even better is that they were made just down the road from me – in fact where they are sitting on a shelf near the window in my stockroom, they look out over the area of Bow in East London, which is where they were manufactured more than 250 years ago.
Arlecchino is the Italian name for a Harlequin, and you can see where the use of the word Harlequin for a mismatched set comes from: his outfit consists of wonderfully mismatched chintz and playing cards. Columbina also has playing cards on her dress. I particularly love Arlecchino’s hat.
What I think is special about Bow figures is their innocence; their faces are unpretentious and have the curiosity of a child written on them. Although close copies of the Meissen originals (the famous potter Kaendler made them at Meissen), these are very low key yet endearing.”