Chinese nodding-head figures are documented in England and Continental Europe as early as the 1760's and 1770's and Zoffany's famous portrait depicting Queen Charlotte in her Dressing Room at Buckingham Palace painted in 1764 shows two such figures in the background (see C. Saumarez Smith, Eighteenth Century Decoration, New York, 1993, p. 255, fig. 246).
Nodding-head figures were imported into England, Europe and America from Canton in large numbers from the 1780's. The great interest in these figures in England is derived in large part from the personal tastes of the Prince of Wales (later George IV) during the late 18th and early 19th Centuries. The Prince's interest in Chinese decoration was first expressed in his Chinese Drawing Room at Carlton House; however his sudden inspiration to achieve an Oriental interior at Brighton Pavilion was prompted in 1802. The final achievement, an ornate palace of fantastical proportions and exotic furnishings, was due to the combined efforts of the Prince himself and his principal designers, John and Frederick Crace, over the next twenty-five years. A number of Chinese figures of this type were prominently displayed in the corridor of the Pavilion (see J. Morley, The Making of the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, Boston, 1984, pp. 169-176).