An Obadiah Sherrat pearlware bull-baiting group, Staffordshire, circa 1820.

The powerful beast with lowered head is harassed by bulldogs, one is attacking its head, whilst its similarly modelled companion is tossed upon the bull’s shoulders.

The bull, with bold russet markings, is secured by a thick grey rope about its neck.

A stout showman wearing a dark russet jacket, pale grey breeches and flowered waistcoat stands with both arms raised enthusiastically beside the animal’s hind quarters, with whip (now missing) in his right hand.

The group is supported on a green rectangular dais with a wavy edged apron moulded and enamelled with a frieze of flowers and applied with two small oval plaques inscribed ‘Bull-Beating’ (sic) and ‘Now Captin Lad’; the entire assembly raised on bracket feet, 26cm by 38cm.

Little seems to be known about Obadiah Sherrat (1775-1842), except that he was a potter in Stoke-on-Trent and his name has become associated with these rather quirky groups.

In England the barbaric sport of bull-baiting dates back to the 18th Century, when it was practised in London and many provincial towns.

From 1209 the town of Stamford was famous for its annual bull-running, when an excited mob pursued an enraged bull through the town.

Bull-baiting was banned in England in 1835 and the final Stamford bull-run took place in 1839.


Related collections