How to Identify Porcelain Figurines

Pink Elephant FigurineA figurine is a statuette that represents a human, deity (god), or animal. Figurines may be realistic or iconic, depending on the skill and intention of the figurine designer. The earliest figurines were made of stone or clay, but modern versions are made of porcelain, ceramic, metal, glass, wood, and plastic (think G.I. Joe’s and other action figures). Figurines with movable parts, which allow limbs to be posed, are more likely to be called dolls, mannequins, or action figures. If they can move on their own they are called robots or automata, depending on which part of the world you live in.

Figurines and miniatures are sometimes used in board games, such as chess, and tabletop games like Risk. Old figurines have been used to discount some historical theories, such as the origins of chess. Figurines are still used in digital games in the form of avatars or characters in a game that are manipulated by the player using a computer or gaming console.  In this sense, figurines are simply meant to represent something else, much like the original definition where we stated that figurines are “statuettes that represent a human, deity (god), or animal.

Porcelain figurines began in China. There are prehistoric figurines of pregnant women called Venus figurines, because of their presumed representation of a female goddess, or some connection to fertility. The two oldest known examples are made of stone, were found in Africa and Asia, and are several hundred thousand years old. Many made of fired clay have been found in Europe that date to 25-30,000 BC, and are the oldest ceramics known.

These early figurines are among the first signs of human culture. One cannot know in some cases how they were used, but we can hypothesize that they had religious or ceremonial significance and may have been used in many types of rituals. Many are found in burials, which helps back-up this hypothesis. Some may have been worn as jewelry or intended to amuse children, much the same way we use action figures to amuse children to today (or children or amused by figurines and dolls so we make more of them).

Porcelain and other ceramics are common materials for figurines. There are many early examples from China where it originated, which drove the experimentation in Europe to replicate the process. The first European porcelain figurines, produced in a process mastered in Germany were known as Meissen ware after the city where it began. Soon the technique was copied in other cities, such as Dresden.

Modern figurines, particularly those made of plastic are often referred to as figures. They can encompass modern action figures and other model figures as well as Precious Moments and Hummel figurines (which are not plastic), Bobbleheads and all kinds of memorabilia. Three companies which continue to produce figurines are Arnart, Royal Doulton, and Lladró.

Figurines of comic book or sci-fi/fantasy characters without movable parts have been referred to by the terms inaction figures (originally used to describe Kevin Smith’s View Askew figurines) and staction figures (a portmanteau of statue and action figures coined by Four Horsemen artists to describe Masters of the Universe figures). This is just an example of how figurines continue to evolve and change.

Baby Elephant Figurine by Furniture Creations

Porcelain Baby Elephant Figurine

Place this lovable elephant in your favorite spot and let him bring joy to your home! Charming wood-look figurine is inspired by traditional carvings designed to attract good fortune. Porcelain. 5 3/8 inches x 3 1/2 inches x 5 3/8 inches high. Furniture Creations sells furniture, accessories, gifts, home décor & more!

Willow Tree Complete 22 Piece Nativity Set By Susan Lordi

Willow Tree Complete 22 Piece Nativity Set By Susan Lordi with Go Green! Compressed Bamboo Towels

Included in this Willow Tree nativity set are the following items: 26106 Creche, 26005 Nativity, 26105 Shepherd and Stable Animals, 26027 Three Wisemen, (2) 26007 Metal Star Backdrop, 26012 Angel of Prayer, 26107 Angel Stand, 26180 Ox and Goat, 26170 Angel A Tree, 26104 Peace On Earth, 3 Go Green! Compressed Rayon from Bamboo Towels. Willow Tree is an intimate, personal line of angels, figurines, ornaments and keepsake boxes representing qualities and sentiments that make us feel close to others, heal wounds, or treasure relationships to living things. The name Willow Tree symbolizes that which is gestural, beckoning and romantic. The figures are columnar in design, like a tree, and often carry flora or fauna symbolic of human virtues or qualities. The angels are rendered so as to reveal their expressions through body gestures only a tilt of the head, placement of the hands, a turn of the body. The absence of facial features contributes to the quiet and modest design. Emotions and feelings are left to the viewer to discern, which makes them very personal and powerful. Susan Lordi’s inspiration comes from a love of family, closeness to friends, and an appreciation of nature. Her art is intimate and personal, reflecting that which helps us treasure our relationship to people and the world around us.

Lladro Water Girl Porcelain Figurine

A Semi-Nude Young Woman Carrying Water Urns

An image of loveliness and ease, the Water Girl figurine from Lladro strolls gracefully toward a well or stream, carrying her water urns at her side. Crafted from premium porcelain, the dark-haired young woman is realistic in proportion and pose, clad to the waist in flowing robes, and wearing a serene expression. A rich texture adds depth to the subtle colors of her skirt, and the urns are painted in warm earth tones. The original design of sculptor Antonio Ramos, Water Girl first entered the Lladro catalog in 1995 and stands 14-1/4 inches high.
Founded by a trio of Spanish brothers in 1953, Lladro is known the world over for superb craftsmanship and timeless images. Designed by artists and created by skilled artisans, each piece is fashioned in the company’s City of Porcelain workshops in Valencia. Perfect gifts and favorites with collectors, Lladro sculptures make treasured additions to the home and are sure to become heirlooms over the years.

The story of Lladró is the story of the family: the Lladró brothers represented their own parents in some of their early pieces, and this was the seed that would grow in later years into one of the most fertile sources of inspiration in the Lladró universe. Everyday scenes recreated in Lladró figurines reveal a complex world of stories full of emotions and feelings.

Willow Tree Mother and Daughter Figurine

Hand-Painted, Stone Resin Mother and Daughter Figurine

Mother and Daughter “Celebrating the bond of love between mothers and daughters,” by Willow Tree®. This hand-painted, stone resin figurine stands 8 inches tall. Figurines are hand painted so unique variations of color may be expected. Mother has dark brown hair and daughter has dark blond hair. A gift of Willow Tree® communicates beyond words. Artist Susan Lordi hand carves each original Willow Tree® sculpture. Expression is revealed through gestures only… a tilt of the head, placement of the hands, a turn of the body. The simplicity of form and the absence of facial features signify Willow Tree. It is Susan’s hope that these pieces be meaningful to both giver and receiver.

Susan Lordi’s art reflects our relationships with people and the world around us. Her keen observation of the human form is further inspired by ballet, modern dance, nature, and her personal experiences with family and friends. These influences are revealed in her Willow Tree® sculptures, from which emotion is communicated through gestures only. Besides her work in sculpture, Susan has always loved making art with cloth. She has a Master of Fine Arts in Textile Design, and her fiber art has been exhibited internationally. A monograph of her art textiles has been published in the Portfolio Collection by Telos Art Publishing and she is featured in the book Art Textiles of the World: USA. Susan maintains a studio in Kansas City, Missouri.

Divine Love by Vicente Lladro

Vicente Lladro, the famous porcelain figurine artist from Valencia, Spain, is releasing Divine Love, a limited edition of 2000 pieces worldwide. It measures 12” x 10”. The artist drew his inspiration for the piece from the Hindu literary and artistic traditions staying true to the nature of Indian art, mainly the drawings and etchings depicted in traditional Indian folk stories.

Lladro, the company, was founded in 1953 by three brothers, Juan, José and Vicente Lladró, in the village of Almácera near Valencia. Starting with items such as vases and jugs, it wasn’t until 1956 that they started producing the sculptures for which they are now most famous. Enthusiasm for the items produced by the Lladró brothers saw their small workshop expand several times until eventually they moved to Tavernes Blanques, Spain in 1958.

This piece in particular, Divine Love, captures the timeless romance between a romantic couple sitting by the banks of the river Ganges, look lost in each other’s love. The young man must bid her farewell for he must go in search of fortune that he needs to marry his love. As a sign of the riches they will share on his return, the young man offers her his crown, a symbol of love that will keep his memories alive in her heart while he is away.

The piece is detailed in every aspect. Bedecked in traditional Hindu jewelry and costumes, the coloring is a new departure for classical porcelain pieces. From the blue used for the man’s skin to the orange and saffron color used in the skirt which is associated with celebrations, happiness, and optimism. The enamels used in the crown and jewelry is unique that lends a stunning realistic effect. The flower garland draped on the young lady’s shoulders looks real and detailed.

One Response to “How to Identify Porcelain Figurines”

  1. arnold davidson says:

    I have I feel a very valuable porcelain figure of a bum sitting on a bench sewing a hole on his sock. Someone told me a long time ago about a famous city in Europe that makes these. Can you help me. I thought it started with a B.
    Arnold Davidson

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