‘Ihro Excedenz Herr Oswold von Stroblbardt’
‘Ursula Schleglin Mayr Mensch im Herren Hoff’
11.1 & 11.3 cm high
He with: Inventory number 229 in red to base
She with: Impressed shield mark; 15 painted faintly in red

The series of fifteen Vienna figures of dwarfs[1] are amongst the earliest figures produced in the State Period. They are often described as ‘Callot’ dwarfs, but in fact they do not derive from the popular Varie Figure Gobbi by the printmaker Jacques Callot (1592-1635), published in Nancy in 1616, but are taken from a very different series of sixty-nine engraved plates by various artists in Il Callotto Resuscitato, first published by Martin Engelbrecht in Augsburg a century later around 1715. These were republished by Wilhelmus Koning in Amsterdam 1716 and in a number of subsequent versions.

The earlier Callot engravings depict the troupe of dwarf entertainers, known as Les Gobbi, that performed for the Medici court when Callot was in Florence between 1612 and 1621. The later Il Callotto Resuscitato are mostly imaginary caricatures of dwarfs that satirize national, social and religious groups. The humour has not always aged well.

In the Engelbrecht series each print inscribed with a satirical verse in German, the Amsterdam versions include further texts in French and Dutch.

‘Ihro Excedenz Herr Oswald von Stroblbardt Injuriarum Licentiatus’ can be translated as ‘His Exceedency Oswald von Bristly Beard, Licentiate of Insults’. The different texts in German, French and Dutch on the Dutch edition of the engravings are not very consistent, but come to the same conclusion, he is a swindler out for money. We have only found one other white example of this model from the Karl Mayer collection[2]

British Museum (BM1613360719)

‘Ursula Schleglin Mayr Mensch im Herren Hoff, zu Blunszingen welche nunmehro ihre Waysen Iahr ausgedient’ appears to be a jolly rustic who delights in eating and sneers at fine fashions.

British Museum (BM1613360954)

An example of ‘Ursula Schleglin’ is in the MAK, Vienna[3].

He: right hand and staff restored
She: Chips to her posie, flakes to black enamel.

Carlos de Bestegui, Chateau de Groussay
Sotheby’s/Poulain Le Fur, Provence, France, Chateau de Groussay, 3 June 1999, lots 309 and 311


Kräftner 2010

Johann Kräftner, Zeremonien, Feste, Kostüme, Die Wiener Porzellanfigur in der Regierungszeit Maria Theresias (Liechtenstein Museum Wien 2010) (p16-18)

Mayer 1928

Otto von Falke (foreword of auction catalogue), Wiener-Porzellan Sammlung Karl Mayer (Auktionshaus für Altertümer Glückselig Gesselschaft, November, Wien, 1928)

Mrazek and Neuwirth 1970

Wilhelm Mrazek and Waltraud Neuwirth, Wiener Porzellan 1718-1864 (Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst, Wien, 1970)




[1] For the series of fifteen Dwarfs see Kräftner 2010, pp. 16-18

[2] Mayer 1928, no. 290

[3] Mrazek and Neuwirth 1970, Colour Plate VII; p114 no. 262,263