Pair of Chinese famille verte biscuit porcelain groups of Middle Eastern merchants seated astride standing Buddhist lions, Early Kangxi, circa 1680


Pair of Chinese famille verte biscuit porcelain groups of Middle Eastern merchants seated astride standing Buddhist lions, Early Kangxi, circa 1680; 6 7/8 inches, 17.5 cm highPrice on request© Marchant.

each with open mouth and upright tail, the merchants wearing peeked striped caps with detailed hair-work to their faces, and wearing harlequin style jackets, the yellow-ground lions with moulded trappings, a bell and flames to their bodies all on openwork rectangular shaped stands with chamfered corners, heightened in iron-red and gilt. 

ProvenanceThe figure facing to the right was formerly in the Samuel Putnam Avery Collection, two inventory marks in black ink 1033 and in iron-red 312. Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) was an engraver, collector and dealer. He was one of the founding trustees of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the museum’s first major group of Chinese ceramics came from his collection. It is recorded that the museum purchased 1,300 ceramics (predominantly Chinese) from his collection in 1879. He travelled extensively in Europe and his travel diaries from 1871 to 1882, describing his visits to galleries, artists’ studios and auctions, are now preserved at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Formerly in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, accessioned in 1879. 

NoteSold by Christie’s, New York, in their auction of Collected in America: Chinese Ceramics from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 15th September 2016, lot no. 902, pp. 127.

The figure facing to the left was formerly in the collection of Mr. N. T. Williams, thence by decent. Mr. N. T. Williams was born in Cornwall and served in the Middle East during World War I and then spent the inter-war years in Calcutta and was involved in the mining business. According to family tradition it was during these years in India that he acquired this piece. 

A similar pair are illustrated by R.L. Hobson, C.B. in Catalogue of the Leonard Gow Collection of Chinese Porcelain, 1931, no. 298, colour pl. XXIX; another two, from the Florence J. Gould Collection, were sold by Sotheby’s, Monaco, in their auction of Porcelaine de Chine et Objects d’Art Chinois, 27th June 1984, lot no. 1311. 

A pair of Buddhist lions modelled as joss stick holders with gu form vases on their backs and standing on similar bases, formerly in the C.T. Loo Collection, Paris are illustrated by Michael Beurdeley and Guy Raindre in Qing Porcelain, Famille Verte, Famille Rose, no. 116, p. 83. 

It is possible that this proper pair were fired on the same day and have now been reunited by Marchant after more than 330 years. 

MARCHANT. Exhibition 'Kangxi Famille Verte'