While traditionally associated with the Brighton Pavilion style in the early nineteenth century, the fashion for chinoiserie nodding-head figures was documented in the 1760's and 1770's in England and Continental Europe. The famous Zoffany portrait depicting Queen Charlotte in her Dressing Room at Buckingham Palace painted in 1764 shows two such figures in the background (C.Saumarez Smith, Eighteenth Century Decoration, New York, 1993, p.255, fig.246). Similarly, figures imported from China in the Danish Royal collection were purchased at auction in 1777 and are discussed in B.Dam-Mikkelsen and T. Lundback, Ethnographic Objects in the Royal Danish Kunsthammer 1650-1800, Copenhagen, 1980, pp.173-179.
A group of related nodding-head figures were sold from the property of David Style, Esq., Christie's house sale, Wateringbury Place, Maidstone, Kent, 31 May-2 June 1978, lots 200-204. Some of these figures are signed 'J.D. Gianelli...August 25 1807'. Gianelli was probably Dominico Gianelli (d. 1841), assumed to be the son of the sculptor in plaster J.B. Gianelli, who supplied four statues for the Great Hall of Carlton House in 1789 (see R. Gunnis, The Dictionary of British Sculptors, 1965, pp. 166-67). Four of the figures from the Wateringbury Place sale were fitted with their original painted hurricane shades, and it is likely that this figure originally supported a similar shade while only the nozzle has been retained.