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"Bear Holding a Dog"

1870-1875
Origin: America, Virginia, Winchester
13 1/8" x 12 5/8" (33.3 cm. x 32.1 cm.)
Earthenware, red, lead-glazed
Gift of Mrs. Curt Richter
Acc. No. 1974.900.2
Sculpted figure of a seated bear wearing a basket on his back and clutching a small dog to his chest. The bear's tongue is protruding from his mouth and the dog holds a bone in his mouth. The bear's fur was made by forcing clay through a screen; this spaghetti-like material was then applied to the hand-modeled form.
Label:According to a Baecher family tradition, although unsigned, this rare bear and a few others like it were made relatively early in the potter's career during the winter of 1872-1873. The bear's fur was made by forcing clay through a screen; this spaghetti-like material was then applied to the hand-modeled form.

This figure may take its inspiration from eighteenth-century salt-glazed stoneware vessels made in England that depict bear baiting. In these violent contests a bear was tied to a stake and was set upon by one or more dogs. Archaeological evidence supports that figures of this type were in America during the eighteenth century and it is possible Baecher may have seen one during his lifetime. However, this American example clearly shows two animals in an embrace rather than a battle.

Provenance:Mrs. Curt Richter
Baltimore, Maryland