Elaine Wormser began collecting nineteenth- and twentieth-century ceramic dog figurines before Joseph Urban was commissioned to design her bedroom. More than 20 ceramic pups, nestled into niches or atop shelves, are observed in archival photographs of the Wormser Bedroom. Accommodating this collection must have been one of the stipulations of Urban’s job. Their inclusion injects an aspect of Elaine’s interests and personality into the room. This poodle figure sits on a cobalt blue pillow. A small hole near its feet indicates that it functioned as a pen holder.
Although Elaine’s collection of nineteenth- and twentieth-century ceramic figures focused on dogs, a few other creatures made their way into the mix, including this crouching black-and-white rabbit and a lion. Made in the industrial potteries of Staffordshire, England, these mass-produced, affordable figurines became popular decorations in English and American homes during the Victorian era and have remained collectible through the present. The presence of Elaine’s collection demonstrates the personal touches she inserted into the modern fabric of her bedroom. Although Urban envisioned the interior as a complete work of art, it was also a space for living that inevitably came to reflect the interests and tastes of its occupant.
This endearing pup and its mate match two modern ceramic figurines that appear in archival photographs of the Wormser Bedroom. Unlike the antique dogs in Elaine’s collection, these have exaggerated, caricatured features. Colorful zigzags and polka dots decorate their ears and bodies. Markings on the underside of the dogs indicate that they were made in Germany and sold by Lavin & Lauer, a short-lived importing business in New York.