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Figure of boy

Figure of boy

  • Place of origin:

    Jingdezhen (made)

  • Date:

    1725-50 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Porcelain with underglaze blue

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Brigadier W. E. Clark CMG, DSO

  • Museum number:

    C.28-1969

  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 145, case 8

Porcelain figures depicting people and animals were popular products of the ceramic factories in Jingdezhen, south-east China, during the 18th century. They were modelled on existing figures known to Chinese potters, such as deities and mythical animals, or copied from European models introduced by supercargoes.

This figure probably represents one of the hehe erxian or Daoist twins immortals, symbols of harmony in Chinese folk religion. Identical figures were found in the cargo of the Geldermalrsen, a Dutch East India Company vessel that sank in Indonesian waters in 1752. As no mention was made to figures in the Dutch order, it is likely that they were privately purchased.

Figures of several kinds were used as decorative pieces in the residences of European aristocrats and wealthy people, where they were often put on display in the so-called 'porcelain rooms'. One of the largest collection of Chinese porcelain known in Europe belonged to August the Strong of Saxony (d. 1733), who owned more than 21,000 pieces.

Physical description

Figure of boy, one of a pair, porcelain partly covered with a blue glaze. The figure is hollow-moulded and seated with legs apart and hands raised, the right hand holding a peach, with expressions of laughter on his face, his hair dressed in two buns on either side of the head. He is naked apart from a sash which is tied round the waist with a string.

Place of Origin

Jingdezhen (made)

Date

1725-50 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Porcelain with underglaze blue

Dimensions

Height: 12 cm

Object history note

One of a pair. [C.28&A-1969]

In the Tradescant Collection at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford is a closely similar figure with blue sash, the remainder of the figure however being in biscuit. The collection has presented to Ashmolean in 1683.

Historical context note

These laughing babies appear to have had a long production period, popular perhaps as gifts to ensure fertility. Examples have been found in various dated shipwriecks, including: the Hatcher Cargo, c. 1643-6, the Ca Mau, c. 1725 and the Geldermalsen, c. 1755. This model is close to those found on the latter.

Descriptive line

Figure of boy, one of a pair, glazed porcelain, Jingdezhen, China, Qing dynasty, ca. 1725-50

Labels and date

Seated boy with apron
China, Jingdezhen, 1725–50
Museum no. C.28&A-1969. Bequest of Brigadier W.E. Clark [September 2009]

Materials

Porcelain

Techniques

Glazed; Blue and white

Categories

Ceramics; Porcelain; Daoism

Collection

East Asia Collection

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