A fine cast bronze seated figure of Guanyin, 17th centuryEstimate US$50,000 - 70,000 (€44,000 - 62,000). Photo: Bonhams.

Her hair carefully combed and pinned in an elaborate coiffure fronted by a figure of a seated Buddha as she turns toward her right while seated in the posture of royal ease, her outer garment wound tightly around her and the undergarment falling in wave-like folds at her feet; the dark brown lacquered surfaces showing traces of gilt lacquer. 16 1/2in (42cm) high

NotesThe posture of the figure with the right knee raised is one associated with the white-robed Guanyin as early as the Five Dynasties. The pose with variations continued into the seventeenth century in porcelain and bronze, notably the Dehua figure of Guanyin seated between Longnu and Shancai, dated by inscription to Chongzhen second year (1629), in the City Museum & Art Gallery, Hong Kong (see P. J. Donnelly, Blanc de Chine, 1969, p. 137 and fig. 71b, 9 13/16in high); and a larger version in bronze published by Michael Goedhuis and Ulrich Hausmann (see Chinese and Japanese Bronzes A.D. 1100-1900, 1989, cat. no. 6 and front cover, 18in high). The type could be expanded to the silver-inlaid bronze figures of a seated Guanyin bearing the signature of Shisou and ascribed in date from the late Ming dynasty, mid-16th to mid-17th century (for example, Sidney L. Moss, Ltd.,Emperor Scholar Artisan Monk: the Creative Personality in Chinese Works of Art, 1984, cat. no. 132) to the 17th/18th century (for example, Christie's New York, sale 2689, 21-22 March 2013, lot 1282). 

In the above and other examples, Guanyin often presents a full face with calm, idealized features. The head of Guanyin in this lot, in contrast, is quite individualized - a self-confident beauty with high forehead, pert nose and a bamboo-shaped hairpin in her coiffure of fashionable late Ming type (for jade examples, see James Watt, Chinese Jades Han to Ch'ing, 1980, cat. no. 192, p. 198; and cat. no. 193, bearing the signature of Lu Zigang, cat. no. 193, p. 199). This seated Guanyin seems to have more in common with rare portrait-like male figures from the secular realm, such as the seated scholar-official inscribed with Wanli cyclical dates from the Doris Duke Collection (Christie's New York, sale 1408, 21 September 2004, lot 125, 22.9cm high) and the charming censer in the form of a seated scholar and goose, ascribed to the Ming dynasty (Christie's New York, sale 1639, 29 March 2006, lot 322, 40.6cm long).