Thursday, July 3, 2014

Maureen Love's 'Mystery' Figures

The infamous Maureen Love 'Mystery' horses have been and continue to be a fascinating subject for collectors of Maureen's horse sculptures.  The companies other than Hagen-Renaker that have copied her sculptures are many, including Lane Ceramics, and we know that Maureen did do sculpting for at least one other company, along with prototype sculptures for a pottery producing liquor decanters.  More about that in another blog!

It is so interesting that many collectors of Maureen's figures actually bought examples of her Mystery horses very early on in their collecting, just because there was 'something' that drew them to the sometimes garishly glazed pottery that ordinarily they would not have looked at.  For years collectors speculated about the pieces, especially the running horse, because it just looked so ~ Maureenish.

I, too, bought a white iridescent running horse at a flea market because it screamed Maureen, and several years later showed a photograph of it to Maureen herself.  We were at a BOYC model horse show, and she told me that she had sculpted it for a small pottery company owned by two brothers.  Maureen couldn't remember their names, but she did sign the back of my photo to confirm her work on that horse. 

In going through her sketches and drawings, I found a few sketches that look like that running horse sculpture.  Some of these sketches are very small, one only about 2" across.

This one below shows that tilted head position very well:

I also found examples in her sketches for the rearing Mystery horses, which help 'prove' that she did sculpt them, or a version of them.  Here are the left-facing ones:

 This one below shows that very distinctive flowing leafy support under the belly:

Below is a right-facing example:
These drawings show the horses in a more horizontal aspect, but it appears the pottery wanted a definite rearing horse.  It may be why particularly the right-facing large pottery version appears to have a smaller waist and chest girth, perhaps it was stretched out a bit when repositioning it?

The 'Mystery' bull ~
I was so excited, many years ago, to have found an example of an outside pottery version of Maureen's Spanish bull sculpture.  I had been lucky enough to hold Maureen's original black stoneware bull, and recognized it immediately when I saw the glossy white one for sale.  Imagine my joy at finding out who now owned Maureen's original one, and being able to bring our bulls together for a photo shoot at Kristina's studio! 

For photos of many examples of the pottery versions and very detailed analysis of them, please visit Kristina's blogs:

We'd love to hear about your fabulous 'Mystery' finds ~ and who knows what other pieces of Maureen's are floating around out there?

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