A sculpture tradition developed in the China trade encompassing both portrait figures and character-type representations. Including unbaked clay nodding head figures as well as carved wood the category's apogee is undoubtedly the lifesize figure of the merchant Yamqua given to the East Marine Society by Benjamin Hodges in 1801. (See C. Crossman, The China Trade, pp. 307-21). Figures like the present lot enabled China traders to bring home a work of art embodying the fascinating characters they encountered in the Far East.
Compare with the seated figure of a merchant sold Christie's New York, 21 January 2003, lot 234.