A rare and important pair of stoneware grotesque amphibious creature andirons by Robert Wallace Martin for Martin Brothers dating from the mid 1870’s. The heavily made andirons portray two grotesque amphibious creatures crouching on their hind limbs and bound back to back by a blue band. The creatures stand on a large rectangular stepped plinth base and are decorated in shades of ochre and blue, one slightly darker glazed than the other. Both have incised makers marks the edge of the plinth bases.
This pair of unrecorded figural andirons, are amongst the most unusual pieces of Martinware and are believed to have been completed as a private commission during the mid-1870s. These scarce and curious objects foreshadow the inception of the iconic ‘Wally Bird’ design and demonstrate an early foray into the grotesque. Depicting quasi-human, semi-amphibious creatures crouching awkwardly and shackled together across the torso, the objects appear to satirise the human struggles of subjugation and exploitation.