See lot 84 for the companion 'Italian Beggar' to this lot.
Joseph Willems was born in Brussels in 1715 and may have been in England and known to the Chelsea factory as early as 1749. This model bears many of the characteristics associated with the modeller including a long heavy body, strong neck and arms, short thick legs, a broad forehead, widely spaced eyes and lips parted in a half smile. For further discussion of the modelling characteristics peculiar to Joseph Willems see the article by Arthur Lane, 'Chelsea Figures and the Modeller Joseph Willems', Connoisseur, 1960, Vol. 145, pp. 245-251 and Peter Bradshaw, 18th Century English Porcelain Figures 1745-1795, Woodbridge, 1981, pp. 101-102, where reference is made to this model and his companion is illustrated, p. 101, pl. 29 (right). Another example from the Frances and Emory Cocke Collection is illustrated by Donald C. Peirce, English Ceramics, The Frances and Emory Cocke Collection, Atlanta, 1988, p. 95, no. 88, where the author says that this model and his companion were listed in a 1756 catalogue of a Chelsea sale as 'Two fine figures of Italian Beggars'.