Here’s a fat jolly friar or monk, bought (as usual) in my local auction room. He’s simply but nicely modelled in terracotta, with very realistic facial features and a slightly baroque look to the drapery of his robes. He might perhaps have been painted or glazed with polychrome enamels at one time, and you can see some residue of the coating on his forehead and neck in the close-up.
My friar is in poor condition. He’s lost his left hand and has also at some time lost his head, which has been stuck back on but not very neatly. And he looks old. How old, I don’t know, but somehow I feel he could be eighteenth century or earlier. As for where he might have originated, he’s a complete total and utter unknown to me: no idea where he’s from or how old he is. Terracotta figurines have been made all over Europe for many hundreds of years – indeed for thousands of years if you count classical Greek and Roman clay figurines. And in Asia too, if you count Chinese clay figurines from the Han and Tang dynasties.
Clearly he’s neither ancient nor Chinese, which cuts down the options to some extent, but my searches of images of baroque terracotta figures show that he might be from almost anywhere in Europe. In fact, although I’ve found lots and lots of terracotta figures, I haven’t found anything comparable to my friar which might provide some clues to his origin. Looks as if he’ll remain yet another mystery object in my collection; another piece of Random Treasure (pending).