John Mcphee is an art historian who worked in art museums for 30 years and was curator of Australian decorative arts at the National Gallery of Australia.
World War, my grandfather brought back this porcelain fifigurine, presumably from England, for my grandmother. I assume she’s about 100 years old and she stands 22cm tall. The thumb on her extended hand is broken and there are three smallish broken pieces of lace. The piece is marked with a blue eight-pointed crown over ‘N’ and an incised number — ‘3’ or possibly ‘8’. The only other pieces I’ve seen with fifinely painted and moulded lacework have been in groups, never a single fifigure. I hope you can tell me more. Barbara Rogers, FRESHWATER, NSW In the late 19th century several potteries in Dresden, Germany, used a crown mark and began to produce romantic fifigurines such as yours. Unfortunately, the marks do not help determine which factory made this example. Depicting an elegant woman in 18th-century style dress, it’s perhaps a nostalgic reminder of a more peaceful time in European history. Your family history helps date this example to early in the 20th century when many people, especially artists, looked to the past for escape from the war. ‘Lace’ fifigurines were extremely popular and thousands were made, but they’re no longer sought after by collectors. The value is determined by condition and the small damages have an impact.