The standard reference book for this type figure is "Staffordshire Portrait Figures of the Victorian Era" by P.D. Gordon Hugh. The figure offered here is so rare that the book does not even show an example, although it does have information about the history underlying it. The same model is shown as figure 49, page 32, in Schiffer's "Victorian Staffordshire Figures 1835-1875."
The figure, known as the "Death of the Lion Queen," is modeled as Ellen Bright standing with a leopard to her left which is resting its paws on her waist, and a recumbent lion to her right. Ellen Bright was the daughter of John Bright, a bugle player in the George Wombwell's Menagerie band. At the age of sixteen she became known as "The Lion Queen". During a performance in January 1850, in a cage with a lion and a tiger, she whipped the tiger, which was not obeying her commands. The tiger then seized her by the throat and killed her. Following an inquest into her death, the practice of "Lion Queens" was banned and only men were allowed into the cages.
An engraving of her death appeared in "The Illustrated London News" on January 10, 1850. This picture was titled "Death of the Lion Queen in Wombwell's Menagerie at Chatham" and appeared 8 days after the event. Although it was a tiger that killed her, the portrait figures show a leopard as the attacking beast.
The overall condition of this piece is excellent, although the left foreleg of the leopard has been broken off and the stub painted, possibly in the manufacturing process.
14 1/8" tall.