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i have acquired two very old looking plaster figures. These are 35.5cm high and are both marked CF38 on the back.I was able to find similar that had sold some years ago on an auction site and the description was that they were late 19th century Coalbrookdale attributed to the artist and painter Francis Derwent Wood and that they were made as maquettes for larger bronze versions. However I cannot find any evidence of this and I believe they are more like the hunting goddess Diana and D’Apres Venus au Bain after Etienne Maurice Falconet. I am aware that these kinds of plaster figures were rife during the late 19th century but it would be great to know where and when they were made. If anyone could help with the CF38 mark would be much appreciated. Thank you.
These look different from both those sculptors and look rather generic to me. The idea that pieces like this could be maquettes is also rather fanciful. Plaster pieces like this were much cheaper to reproduce than bronzes so made for the mass marketplace. Rich families could afford the original bronzes from foundries, less rich families could buy the knock offs made of spelter, and everyone else could buy these that looked similar but were much cheaper. Sorry I don't know anything about the mark.
Actually, the link I shared is showing two OTHER figures with the same supposed backstory. These two forms are different, and NOT the ones posted in this discussion. The one has a square base and brass plaque and the other "bather" is bending down further and has a different hairstyle. That being said, I am not sure if the concept is still too fanciful, as you say, but there is obviously someone else out there thinking something similar. ;)
And here is the one bather's sister!