A very rare inscribed blue and amber-glazed pottery figure of a seated lady, Tang dynasty (618-907)

Lot 2916. A very rare inscribed blue and amber-glazed pottery figure of a seated lady, Tang dynasty (618-907); 11 3/4 in. (30 cm.) high. Estimate HKD 1,000,000 - HKD 1,500,000Price realised HKD 1,250,000© Christie's Images Ltd 2017  

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The figure is modelled seated demurely holding the trailing sash of her blue and amber-striped, high-waisted dress tied at the chest. The dress is decorated in relief with vertical rows of florets. Her face is modelled with delicate features and her hair dressed in a knotted loop above each ear. She is seated on an amber-glazed waisted seat decorated with two rows of lappets. The underside of the figure is inscribed to the base in black inkGuang jia zhi nu zi ‘, which may be translated as ‘daughter of the Guang family’, box.  

ProvenanceAcquired in Hong Kong, 13 March 1998

ExhibitedBen Janssens Oriental Art, London, 2004, Catalogue, pp. 48-51

NoteThis particularly charming figure is rare in both bearing an inscription and being applied with the precious cobalt-blue glaze. The inscription indicates that the figure was intended for a female member of the Guang Family, and the application of the expensive blue glaze suggests that the Guang Family was one of wealth and privilege. The current figure combines an elaborately decorated dress with hair simply bunched on either side of the head in a style more usually associated with younger girls. This gives a rather endearing impression of a young girl in her best clothes. Margaret Medley noted in her introduction to the Exhibition of Tang Sancai Pottery Selected from the Collection of Alan and Simone Hartman that a similarly dressed standing figure with hair in side bunches was that of a ‘young adolescent girl’.

A nearly identical figure, seated with the same hair style and blue and amber-glazed dress, was exhibited at Sui to Tang Dynasty Art, Osaka City Museum, 1976, Catalogue no. 200. Another very similar female seated figure, with slightly different hair style but wearing an identical dress, is in the Nezu Museum of Art and illustrated in Selected Masterpieces from the Nezu Museum Collection, Japan, 2009, pl. 67 (fig. 1). Compare also to a larger sancai figure of a lady (40.6 cm.), glazed mainly in yellow and green, which is depicted seated on a rattan stool holding a flower in one hand, formerly in the A. Alfred Taubman Collection and sold at Sotheby’s New York, 16 March 2016, lot 272.

A blue and amber-glazed pottery figure of a seated lady, Tang dynasty (618-907), Collection of the Nezu Museum

A blue and amber-glazed pottery figure of a seated lady, Tang dynasty (618-907), Collection of the Nezu Museum.

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A Rare and Important Sancai-Glazed Pottery Figure Of A Court Lady, Tang Dynasty (618-906)Sold 1,270,000 USD at Sotheby's New York, 16 march 2016, lot 272. Photo Sotheby's.

The result of Oxford Authentication Ltd. thermoluminescence test no. C103a47 (24 January 2003) is consistent with the dating of this lot.

Christie's. Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, 29 November 2017, Hong Kong