Have you met some of our favorite furry friends?

Potter Samuel Bell (1811-1891) of Winchester made this pair of molded whippet figurines in 1841. Whippets are an English sighthound breed descended from greyhounds. The Bell family of potters made numerous whippets as decorative pieces for Valley homes, some of which retain their original paint decoration.

Pair of Whippet Figurines by Samuel Bell (1811-1891), Winchester, VA, 1841. Marked “S. BELL” and inscribed “Samuel Bell / Sept 21 1841 / Winchester”. Earthenware with paint. Collection of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, 2013.07.1-2. Photo by Ron Blunt.

The Bells also made both glazed and unglazed cat figurines. While not glazed, this feline has gouged marks made with a sharp tool that give it the look of a spotted, exotic cat.

Cat Figurine attributed to S. Bell and Son, Strasburg, VA, 1882-1895. Earthenware with slip wash. Collection of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, 2008.0008.1. Photos by Nick Powers.

Interested in visiting more feline friends at the MSV? Make sure to check out the upcoming exhibition Steinlen: Cats, at the MSV from May 2 through September 1, 2019. Organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the exhibition features 26 cat-themed works by the French-Swiss artist Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen (1859–1923).