IMPORTANT BELL FAMILY, STRASBURG, SHENANDOAH VALLEY OF VIRGINIA ATTRIBUTED SLIP-WASHED EARTHENWARE / REDWARE WHIMSICAL FIGURE OF A CAT

Item/Auction Attributes

Probably S. Bell & Son, Strasburg, VA
Fourth quarter 19th century
Remarkably near proof condition having only some light flaking to tips of ears and a few very minor surface flakes
5" h, 2 1/8" x 3 3/8" base
From a Maryland private collection formed in the 1950s
$8,000.00
$12,000.00
This most important Folk Art figure is a Tour de Force in regard to its whimsical form and powerful decoration. The artist's addition of only a light slip wash dramatically enhances its three dimensional depth (pop) and striking sculptural qualities.
The rooster-top covered jar sited in the first reference above is also decorated with gouge punching as well as circles and ovals, and according to Comstock is stamped "S. BELL & SON." Unfortunately much of the appeal of its decoration is obscured and covered over by the addition of a thick polychrome glaze. Another important example of gouged fur decoration is seen on the dog with monkey rider that is illustrated in Comstock, p. 253, fig. 5.164; it is also attributed to S. Bell & Son.
Three additional animal figures that feature the same distinctive punched "eyelid" ovals as seen on this cat, are a pair of seated cats, Comstock, p. 232, fig. 5.90, and a seated dog, Comstock, p. 233, fig. 5.91. Each of these figures is attributed to Solomon Bell
Most closely related to Comstock, p. 241, fig. 5.127
Basic form parallels Comstock, p. 157, fig. 4.219