Saturday, March 8, 2014

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: A Figure by Samson et Cie, c. 1845

Il Capitano
Hard-paste Porcelain Figure by Samson et Cie, Paris, 1845
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This figurine of glazed hard-paste porcelain was produced by the Samson factory in Paris which was founded in 1845 by Edmé Samson. The figure depicts “the Captain,” a character from the Commedia dell'Arte. 
 The Captain, or “Il Capitano,” was among the stock characters of Commedia dell'Arte.  The swaggering character was a satire on the military profession.  The bragging Captain, if he ever really was a Captain, held the post a long time in the past. This obnoxious figure was portrayed as a boastful figure with a rakish moustache and dark beard. The Captain was originally conceived as Italian, however, he was depicted as Spanish during the period of Spanish domination of Italy.

This ceramic figurine of the bearded boaster shows him leaning slightly forward, his left arm in the air at shoulder height with his hand to his chest.
 His right hand is held out to the side at waist height. He wears a large, tan, wide-brimmed hat , a close-fitting white jacket and trousers and has a taupe cape over his shoulders. He wears black shoes with foppish gold buckles and stands on a circular rococo-style swirly-edged base with gilt decoration.

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