Looking through any book or catalog of Lladró figurines is an overwhelming experience, but as this was my first love, I felt it important to show the few lovelies that grace my display shelf.
I served in the U.S. Army in the late 1980s and was stationed in what was then West Germany. Of course, there were a lot of wonderful collectibles right there in German shops, but soldiers could see many of the more popular ones in shops on military bases as well. The first of these shops I ever walked into had quite a few figurines. Suddenly, I looked down into one of the cases and saw this centaur girl:
I stared at this beautiful thing for a long time, but not long enough for anyone to notice. Every time I was at that base, I’d make a point to go in and look at her again. I could afford to buy it if I wanted, but I felt weird about it. I lived in barracks with a bunch of young macho guys and so I wouldn’t have the guts to display it anyway. In such small quarters, it could easily get broken and a single soldier’s lifestyle made such pleasures impractical. I never forgot about it and wondered why this figure should have this kind of affect on me.
Years later, when I got used to navigating the web, I decided to search “centaur girl” and a tingle went up my spine when one of the images was of that very same figurine. I then learned that it was a Lladró called Demure Centaur Girl and had a similar companion piece Wistful Centaur Girl (#5319) which I remember being displayed in the case as well.
In a little while, I found one for sale and purchased it. I remember waiting what seemed like forever for it to arrive. It was the busy time for postal service and I did not receive it until after the New Year. I had heard of and seen other Lladrós before but was never that impressed so it was a revelation that some of their work could be like this. I decided to see if they made anything else that might appeal to me or if this was just a fluke of aesthetics. Lo and behold, there was an even older centaur girl called appropriately enough, Centaur Girl.
Being an older piece, it did not have the delicate ornamentation seen on later Lladrós, but the delicacy and attitude of the figure struck me even more than the first one. I have studied it many times since and discovered how it achieves its dynamic charm. The girl and front legs of the filly are sweet and proper and serene while the hind quarters give the impression of excitement. The hind legs are in a tense open posture as though ready to spring and the tail is curled like a whip suggesting a frisky demeanor. This piece has its complement as well: Centaur Boy (#1013). I still find it odd that the centaur form is so appealing to many; it seems so front-heavy, but somehow talented artists manage to pull it off.
It turns out that Lladró produced a lot of fantasy pieces over the years, far too many to ever discuss adequately in this blog (stay tuned for Lladró, Part 99!), but I was sufficiently charmed by two of the three Butterfly Girl figurines to purchase them. The third one (#1402) has a distracting feathered hairstyle that gives it an unfortunate dated appearance. I was surprised to discover that the latter centaur girls and butterfly girls were all designed by José Puche but given their similar aesthetic sensibility, it makes perfect sense now.
As I share more of my collection, I will also reveal some of the remarkable things that gives Lladró that instantly recognizable style.
Lladró Porcelain (official site)