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China

Clay figures of seated Chinese man and woman late eighteenth to early nineteenth century

Clay painted in colours and gilt | 66 cm (Height) (whole object) | RCIN 176

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  • Clay models of a seated Chinese court official and a lady on wooden stands. The man, seated on a black and green rocky throne, looking to the front, holding a patterned handkerchief in his left hand. The head attached inside the neck to a hanging metal weight suspended on a ceramic section, so as to nod up and down when agitated. The features naturalistically coloured and the expression placid, with reddened lips, a small black moustache and beard, the eyes and eyebrows black. On the head, a round, domed, black and red hat with a gilt finial. Dressed in a purplish-brown topcoat, with green collar and gilt hems, tied down the front with a rank badge across the chest depicting a bird, over a long-sleeved green and yellow robe painted above the hem with rocks and waves, and beneath this, an orange under-robe. His heavy black shoes curving upwards to reveal white soles. The figure supported by a central metal rod and set on a rectangular wood base of imitation green marble.

    The lady sitting on a matching throne and base, holding a handkerchief in her right hand; her features in the same style and her hair gathered in a bun with a topknot; the head also designed to nod. Wearing a bright peacock-blue topcoat, with patterned gilt collar and a rank badge on the front, over a long-sleeved pale blue robe patterned in green, blue, red and gold.

    In the time of George IV, these lifelike models were among the most typical and impressive contents of the Gallery at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton. Such models appear to have been produced in South China, within reach of the port of Guangzhou, and were essentially made for the European market.

    Text from Chinese and Japanese Works of Art in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen: Volume III.

    Provenance

    Possibly acquired by George IV when Prince of Wales.They seem to be among various items noted by Jutsham in connection with Brighton: ‘Mr Fogg. Two Chinese Clay Figures in Sitting Attitudes to be repaird and Cleand. Returned’ (Jutsham Dels I.42); ‘Case No 9, Containing A Chinese Clay-Male Figure, No 10 Containing A Chinese Clay Female Figure and No 11 Containing 2 Heads & Hands with 2 Fans belonging to above Figures … No 18 Containing A Pair of Chinese Figures in sitting attitude-on Gilt Cushion with a Tassel at Each Corner. The Female holding a Parasol. The Male holding a Fan. From the Bow Room’ (Jutsham Dels I.330, 6 November 1819).

  • Medium and techniques

    Clay painted in colours and gilt

    Measurements

    66 cm (Height) (whole object)

    60.7 cm (Height) (whole object)

  • Place of Production

    China