Large court ladies (20in. or higher) holding animals are exceedingly rare. Only three others appear to have been published. One, of a lady holding a dog, from the Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka, is illustrated in Sekai toji zenshu, Shogakukan, Japan, 1976, vol. 11, pp. 42 and 43, col. pl. 29. The second, holidng a bird, is illustrated in the Tsui Museum of Art, Chinese Ceramics I, Hong Kong, 1993, Catalogue, no. 105, and subsequently sold at Christie's, New York, March 20, 1997, lot 56. The third, also holding a dog, was sold by Christie's Los Angeles, Treasures of the Tang, December 4, 1998, lot 20.
This figure resembles those figures being produced in the mid-8th century, around the time of the death of Wu Shouzhong in A.D. 748. The shape of the face, facial features and hair style are very similar to smaller figures of somewhat earlier date, circa second quarter of the 8th century, but the large size and style of clothing are comparable to those figures found in the tomb of Wu Shouzhong, Kaoloucun, Xian. For illustrations of both of these types of figures see M. Medley, Tang Pottery and Porcelain, London, 1981, p. 48, pls. 36-38 for the earlier, glazed type and p. 50, pls. 39 and 40 for the later, larger and unglazed type.
A smaller figure (15in. high) of related type shown with a bird perched on her right hand is illustrated by E. Schloss, Ancient Chinese Ceramic Sculpture, Stamford, 1977, vol. II, pl. 125.
For a charming painting in colored inks on silk by the Tang artist Zhou Fang, depicting two elegant court ladies playing with a small dog, and entitled 'ladies-in-waiting', see M. Tregear, Arts of China, Recent Discoveries, Tokyo, 1968, p. 115, no. 199.