Pair of Derby Figures of Birds, 18th Century



A pair of late 18th century porcelain Royal Crown Derby bird figurines of goldfinches.

The goldfinch is an exquisite little bird with a beautiful high-pitched song. Each bird is shown perched on a tree stump which is lightly decorated with leaves and flower heads in pale colors. Modeled facing one another: one bird looks slightly to the right the other slightly to the left. The modeling is crisp and the colors fairly represent the birds plumage.

The bottom of each piece is marked with the impressed Derby mark N51.


Excellent. Some color touched in, small chips to a few flowers (see images).


H 5.75 in. x W 3.25 in. x D 5 in.




Twitchet, “Derby Porcelain,” page 77 Illustration 68.


The European goldfinch is a tiny bird found throughout much of Europe, where it frequents gardens and roadsides. And it has the looks to match its sparkling song. Its striking red, white, and black face is set off by yellow and black wings (see images). The name for a group of goldfinches is “a charm.” Their beauty, voices, and flitting flight make this a very appropriate name. The goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis), is featured in European romantic folklore and nearly 500 religious Renaissance works, often pictured with Christ or the Madonna.

In 1729 Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi sought to imitate the goldfinch’s beautiful high pitched song in a flute concerto. The song of the goldfinch had caught the ear of this Italian composer who is widely celebrated for his exuberant, playful melodies. Vivaldi named the flute concerto Il Gardellino, (The Goldfinch). The concerto challenges the flute to imitate the bird’s silvery trills and sweetly warbled phrases.

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