A Massive Pair of Geese, Late 18th century/early 19th century; 22¼ in. (56.5 cm.) high (2). Estimate $60,000 - $90,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2009
One standing with head held high on his long, slender neck, the other turned back, preening a wing, the plumage on their wings and tails picked out in molded details and the pebbly skin of their broad webbed feet glazed orange, open beaks revealing tiny teeth.
Note: In China geese are considered romantic, symbolizing loyalty and marital happiness. They are said to fly always in pairs and to mate for life, even remaining solitary if a mate dies. Flying geese are also believed to deliver good news, and mean the best of luck.
The heavy legs and feet and the horny knob on these birds' bills are characteristic of Chinese geese; geese are known in Chinese ceramics as early as the Han dynasty. The concept of very large porcelain models, however, may well have been inspired by the porcelain swans produced by Kändler at Meissen in the mid-18th century. On the underside are two circular unglazed patches where supports were applied; their open mouths were the only escape for air during the firing process.
For smaller examples see William R. Sargent, The Copeland Collection, 1991 p. 239, Sotheby's, London, The Ionides Collection, 18 February 1964, lot 273, and Sotheby's, New York, the Estate of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 30 April 1980, lot 538.
Another massive pair was sold Christie's, New York, 21 May 2003, lot 102.
Christie's. Chinese Export Porcelain. 21 January 200, New York, Rockefeller Plaza.