This rare porcelain stirrup cup was made in the form of the head of a fish; a salmon. The fish is well painted with over-glaze enamel colors of black and gray with a bit of yellow-brown in the eye, and a touch of red for the mouth. The realism of this stirrup cup is evidence of the superb decorative skills of the Staffordshire painters.
A porcelain stirrup cup in the form of any fish is quite rare. Most stirrup cups are related to fox hunting and were made in the form of foxes or hounds, but a small quantity of cups were made for the sport fisherman in the form of the head of a salmon or a trout. We were lucky to find this outstanding example made in England, circa 1820.
H 5 in. x D 3 inches x W 2.5 in.
Originally stirrup cups were made in silver to be held in the hand while on horseback, and therefore had no need of a foot. Stirrup cups in pottery and porcelain became popular in England in the last quarter of the 18th century. So, a stirrup cup filled with sherry or port was something to enjoy before or at the end of a hunt.
If you see a fox hunt scene on film, keep an eye out for a cup with an animal’s head and no base. You’ll be looking at a stirrup cup.
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