Height: 8 2/5 in. (21.3 cm.)
The present figure was the second version of a red squirrel produced at the Bow factory, the first having been made around 1752-54. The Bow models were inspired by a squirrel produced at Chelsea during the Triangle period, circa 1746, an example of which can be found in the British Museum, London, and is illustrated in Elizabeth Adams, Chelsea Porcelain, p. 35, fig. 3.20. The Chelsea model in turn was possibly based on a Meissen original. While the more ubiquitous model of a squirrel produced at Meissen, depicted holding a nut and wearing a chained collar, was created around 1750 (see a pair in the Michele Beiny collection), Johann Joachim Kändler’s earlier model of 1733 may have been the basis for the Chelsea version. A Meissen squirrel-form teapot modeled by Kändler in 1737 could have also served as a possible prototype, however, the teapot is quite stylized, showing none of the zoological accuracy of either Kandler’s 1733 model or the Chelsea squirrel. The other possible option is that the Chelsea modeler sculpted his figure from a drawing or print, or even from life itself, rather than a somewhat variant Meissen model.
The Chelsea porcelain model of a squirrel proved so popular in England that it not only inspired the Bow factory to produce their own version, but also appeared in Derby porcelain by about 1765-70 as well as in Staffordshire by about 1770-75 (a model by Ralph Wood can be found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art). Though none are exact copies of the Chelsea example, they all share basic similarities. Another model produced in creamware, circa 1750, also in the collection of the British Museum, closely resembles the present model and may have served as its most direct inspiration.
A very similar pair of Bow squirrels is illustrated by Frank Stoner, Chelsea, Bow and Derby Porcelain Figures, pl.110, in which the only discernible difference is the lack of applied flowers to the bases. Miniature versions of this model were also produced at Bow, see for example that from the Billie Pain Collection, sold by Bonhams on 26 November 2003, lot 38.