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Lions and tigers and bears, oh my—an­i­mal magic sweeps the Cotswold An­tique Deal­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion Fair

Country Life Every Week - - Contents -

Huon Mal­lalieu sees an­i­mal magic in the Cotswolds

The first zoo in eng­land was es­tab­lished in his hunt­ing park at Wood­stock by henry I in the first decade of the 12th cen­tury. his col­lec­tion in­cluded lions, camels and por­cu­pines and their de­scen­dants and suc­ces­sors pro­vided the ba­sis of the royal menagerie at the Tower of London, which, in turn, ul­ti­mately be­came London Zoo. In the 18th cen­tury, some­thing of the tra­di­tion re­turned to Blen­heim Palace, when the 4th Duke of Marl­bor­ough was given a ti­gress by Clive of In­dia.

Th­ese facts, to­gether with the choice of the Wild­fowl & Wet­lands Trust as its char­ity for this year, have prompted ex­hibitors to give the Cotswold An­tique Deal­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion Fair at Blen­heim an an­i­mal theme to their dis­plays and pub­lic­ity. The fair has ce­mented its place as one of the best in the coun­try since 2012, when it re­placed the an­nual fort­night of gallery shows put on by mem­bers of the As­so­ci­a­tion. It runs from March 30 to April 2 this year.

Among the beasts on of­fer are two lions orig­i­nally in­spired by the same an­cient orig­i­nal. The first is a 7¼in-high bronze copy (Fig 2) of one of the an­i­mals with their paws on globes, known as the Medici Lions and dis­played since 1789 in the Log­gia dei Lanzi, Florence. This was the more dam­aged one, which was re­stored by Flaminio Vacca in 1594 when they were still at the Villa Medici in Rome. Their trans­fer in 1789 prob­a­bly trig­gered the mak­ing of copies in var­i­ous ma­te­ri­als for the Grand Tour market and ever since.

This early ex­am­ple is with Ar­chi­tec­tural her­itage of Tadding­ton Manor south of Broad­way, which notes ju­di­ciously that: ‘No doc­u­men­ta­tion has so far been at­tached to the few known fine bronze Medici Lions, nor the name of a foundry or artist who may have cast them to pro­vide a firm date of ori­gin and so, as is the case with many highly com­pe­tent reprises of An­tiq­uity, this model’s au­thor re­mains for the mo­ment anony­mous’. It is on a base of rouge gri­otte mar­ble, a favourite with Louis XIV.

The se­cond is a rather less so­phis­ti­cated Stafford­shire pot­tery pearl­ware ‘An­gry Lion’ fig­ure dec­o­rated in enamel colours (Fig 1). Of­fered by John howard of Wood­stock it dates from about 1820 and is priced at £2,800. The com­po­si­tion par­tic­u­larly ap­pealed to the Bri­tish as their em­pire ex­panded, but al­though the pose still ex­udes pa­tri­otic pride, in Mr howard’s words: ‘The face of this lion is al­most hu­man­is­tic and that is part of its ap­peal—the fierce­ness has an al­most whim­si­cal com­edy about it. This par­tic­u­lar lion has more of a folk ap­peal rather than a for­mal rep­re­sen­ta­tion, al­ways a won­der­ful thing to see in Stafford­shire pot­tery.’

This fair now in­cludes one or two ex­hibitors who are not mem­bers of CADA, where their spe­cial­i­ties are deemed to be com­ple­men­tary, and, this year, they in­clude Ti­mothy Mil­lett with medals and ob­jects of art and Joanna Booth with ta­pes­tries, tex­tiles, Old Mas­ter draw­ings and early fur­ni­ture and carv-

Fig 3: Ôcab­bage leaf’ ta­pes­try of about 1580. With Joanna Booth

Fig 2: Bronze copy of one of the Medici Lions. With Ar­chi­tec­tural Her­itage

Fig 1: Stafford­shire ‘An­gry Lion’. With John Howard

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