Lot 3224. A rare painted grey pottery figure of a foreign groom, Tang dynasty (AD 618-907); 16 in. (40.5 cm.) high. Estimate USD 20,000 - USD 30,000. Price realised USD 30,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2015.
Depicting a foreigner, the figure is well modeled standing in a dynamic pose on a shaped base, with the body twisted to the left and head turned sharply to the right, and his hands positioned as if pulling on reins. His face is modeled with a textured beard, open mouth beneath a mustache, a large hooked nose, and prominent brows. He wears a loose-fitting coat hiked up under the belt in front that exposes his bare, fleshy torso, and a cloth cap tied around his hair. There is extensive pigment remaining.
Provenance: Sotheby's New York, 22 March 1995, lot 203.
Exhibited: On loan: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2000-2010.
Note: A pottery figure of a seated foreigner, which appears to be of similar ethnic type as the present figure, with full, textured beard, pronounced hooked nose and brows, and wearing a similar cloth cap tied in the same fashion, is illustrated by M. Medley in T'ang Pottery and Porcelain, London, 1979, p. 56, pl. 47. The author notes, p. 54, that it was fashionable in the seventh and eighth centuries to employ foreign grooms, and that they included "Central Asians such as Khorezmians, Sogdians, Uighurs and Turks", as well as Iranians, and others with Caucasian features.
A related green and amber-glazed figure of a standing groom, described as Caucaso-Iranian, in the Mr. and Mrs. Ezekiel Schloss Collection, illustrated by E. Schloss in the exhibition catalogue, Foreigners in Ancient Chinese Art, China Institute, New York, 1969, pl. 6, exhibits similar facial features, including the full beard and mustache with upturned ends of the present figure.
Christie's. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, New York, 15 - 16 March 2015