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THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN
A PAIR OF 'BRIGHTON PAVILION' NODDING-HEAD PLASTERWORK FIGURES OF AN EMPEROR AND EMPRESS, each seated on a dark rockwork base with the hands concealed beneath an Imperial yellow-ground robe decorated with dragons, bats, clouds and ribboned emblems, the striped undergarment with waves and clouds, the male dignitary wearing a gilded official cap, his Imperial consort with her hair pinned in a top knot, some edges with repainting and minor restoration, Qianlong, circa 1770

Details
A PAIR OF 'BRIGHTON PAVILION' NODDING-HEAD PLASTERWORK FIGURES OF AN EMPEROR AND EMPRESS, each seated on a dark rockwork base with the hands concealed beneath an Imperial yellow-ground robe decorated with dragons, bats, clouds and ribboned emblems, the striped undergarment with waves and clouds, the male dignitary wearing a gilded official cap, his Imperial consort with her hair pinned in a top knot, some edges with repainting and minor restoration, Qianlong, circa 1770
10¾in. (27.5cm.) high (2)

Lot Essay

Very few documented or dated examples of these interesting 'Chinoiserie' figures have been published. Perhaps the most closely comparable are the several figures in the Peabody Museum of Salem, Asian Export Art Department, presented to the East India Maine Society circa 1830, where it was noted that the artisans were 'copied from life and bought from Canton'
Cf. C. L. Crossman, op. cit., pp. 316-17 for the nodding-head figures in the Peabody Museum; and on p. 315 the painting in the Royal Collection by John Zoffany of Queen Charlotte with her sons, which illustrates two nodding figures. Cf. also A. Setterwall, op. cit., pp. 179-183 for the figures in the Chinese Pavilion at Drottningholm. Another figure, with long beard, in the Royal Collection and on loan to the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, is illustrated by P. Conner, op. cit., p.50, no.60
It is now possible to date these somewhat earlier than has traditionally been the case, by reference to B. Dam-Mikkelsen and Torben Lundbaek, Ethnographic Objects in the Royal Danish Kunsthammer 1650-1800, pp. 173-179. The present lot is closely related to the pair of seated figures illustrated p.174, which form part of the group of "twenty-four figures of Chinese burnt clay with colouring, 13 inches high, representing the Emperor and Empress of China and the whole Imperial household" (sic). They were bought at an auction held by the Danish Asiatisk Kompagni in 1777, and have remained ever since in the Danish Royal Collection. See also T. Clemmensen and M. B. Mackeprang, Kina og Danmark, p. 212 and pl. 134, for a discussion of others from the Danish Royal Collection
Cf. also the pair sold in these Rooms, 1 November 1993, lot 174, and the very comparable pair sold in these Rooms, 9 May 1994, lot 266. The present lot offered here is in particularly good and original condition. Especially notable is the gilt headdress of the Emperor and the tied hair-knot of the Empress, both very similar to the pair in the Danish Royal Collection. It is also most unusual for the figures to have detachable belts as originally intended; both figures have original slots to contain these belts, which have survived on the figures in the Royal Danish Collection
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