Antique trivet - 'The Cat's Paw'


19th Century

  • £275.00
  • €323 Euro
  • $358 US Dollar

United Kingdom

Hoarde Vintage Member since 2018
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An early Victorian white pottery trivet, fully decorated with under-glaze blue transfer depicting the famous painting by Landseer of 'The Cat's Paw' - 1824.
Derived from 'The monkey and the cat', the 17thC fable by Jean de La Fontaine, in which Bertrand the monkey persuades Raton the cat to pull roasting chestnuts from the embers of a fire, promising him a share. As the cat scoops them from the fire one by one, burning his paw in the process, the monkey steals them and gobbles them up. They are disturbed by a maid entering and the cat gets nothing for its pains.

It is from this fable that the French get their idiom 'Tirer les marrons du feu', meaning to act as someone's dupe or, deriving from that, to benefit from the dirty work of others. It is also the source of the English idiom 'a cat's paw', defined as 'one used by another as a tool' or 'a person who is used by another to carry out an unpleasant or dangerous task'.

With many artistic interpretations of this story over the centuries, this trivet is decorated with a detailed transfer taken from an engraving of the famous painting 'The Cat's Paw' by Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, one of his most well known and controversial works which was exhibited in 1824 at the British Institution.

With the monkey in the foreground grabbing the cats paw on the stove, the cats in the basket in the background and an interwoven border around the edge, this wonderful rare trivet probably dates within the decade following the paintings display, when the rising middle classes were buying more and more decorative and utilitarian pottery and porcelain for use in the home.

The reverse is marked with a bold blue transfer C, which correlates with marks used by Caughley pottery, who were taken over by John Rose (Coalport) in 1799 and were responsible for the introduction of the first Willow pattern blue transfer.

6-1/2" Diameter

Some restoration on the rim to the left of the image, otherwise very good with no damage elsewhere.


  • W: 17cm (6.5in)


19th Century

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