Man or Mouse?

When mice invaded Doulton’s Lambeth studio, sculptor George Tinworth didn’t trap them as normal. Instead he watched their antics and visualized them in human situations. As light relief from his monumental religious sculptures, he modeled little salt-glazed stoneware “humoresques” as he called them, which served as paperweights and menu holders.

Tinworth modeled the little salt-glazed stoneware mice in the late 1880s and his wife’s diary of  1888 records him modeling a group of mice at a tea party called Scandal, which is now in the Art of Tea exhibition.  A group of the mice models was shown at the Royal Institute in February 1888 during a lecture by Sir Henry Doulton. Mrs. Tinworth described how “nice and quaint” they looked on show in the library. Tinworth was asked to model the mice all over again as Sir Henry wanted another set. He enjoyed displaying them on his dinner table as conversation pieces.  We can only imagine the reaction to the drunken mice with one collapsed under the table or the jolly Cockneys boating party with a sea-sick mouse.

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