Groups by Planché from the series of 'The Five Senses' are rare.
Their scarcity has not facilitated research into the origins of the
series and even lead, some years ago, to confusion as to which Sense
this group represented, when it was occasionally erroneously
identified as being 'Sight' instead of 'Hearing'. This confusion partly arose from the fact that the two figures which compose the group are often lacking their attributes, so their intended activity has been unclear. The issue was further complicated by the extremely rare authentic group of 'Sight', in which a lady holds a mirror (sold Sotheby's, The Wallace Elliot Collection, and now in the British Museum) being later interpreted as being a lady holding a lyre and therefore attributed to 'Hearing', leaving authentic groups of 'Hearing' to be described as 'Sight'. The later emergence of groups such as this one, yet modelled with the lady holding a parrot or sometimes a trumpet, subsequently allowed this attribution to be discounted. This is reinforced by the existence of the separate component figures from the group in the Indianapolis Museum of Art, John Twitchett, Derby Porcelain, p. 46, fig. 24; the girl plays a pair of drums and the man the lute.
A possible original design source for the set of the Senses has been thought for some time to have been an engraving, perhaps from the
'Livre de six feuilles représentent les cinq Sens par différents amusements chinois sur les dessins de F. Boucher', advertised in the Mercure in 1740, but this has yet to be proved. See H.G. Bradley,
Ceramics of Derbyshire 1750-1970, p. 10.
Examples of this group exist mainly in the white although coloured and sparsely coloured versions also exist. The sparsely decorated group illustrated John Twitchett op. cit., p. 37, fig. 20, is that which is also illustrated by Dennis G. Rice, Derby Porcelain, p. 75, no. 3, which was sold in these Rooms on 7 December 1959, lot 147 and again on the 6 December 1976, lot 163. It is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Yvonne Hackenbroch, Chelsea and other English Porcelain and Enamel in the Irwin Untermyer Collection, pl. 100, fig. 269, illustrates a coloured group; another from the W.A.H. Harding Trust, was sold in these Rooms on 10 October 1983, lot 235. A white example from the Brookman Collection was sold by Sotheby's, 8 October 1946, lot 76 and subsequently in these Rooms, 5 June 1978, lot 138, John Twitchett, ibid., p.33, pl. 15. For another see R.J. Charleston and Donald Towner, English Ceramics 1580-1830, the Catalogue of the 50th Anniversary Exhibition of the English Ceramics Circle, no. 148. The white group from the Wallace Elliot Collection which originally sold at Sotheby's, 26 May, 1938, lot 318, was later sold by them in New York, 21 April 1989, lot 54. It was then exhibited in London at Stockspring Antiques, March 13-20 1990.