A Dehua seated figure of Wenchang, Ming dynasty, 17th century, He Chaozong mark

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Lot 3650. A Dehua seated figure of Wenchang, Ming dynasty, 17th century, He Chaozong mark; 38.5 cmLot sold 1,260,000 HKD (Estimate : 900,000 - 1,200,000 HKD). © Sotheby's 2022

Provenance: Sotheby's London, 4th November 2009, lot 243.

Christie's Hong Kong, 30th May 2018, lot 3109.

NoteHe Chaozong, the Dehua kilns' most famous potter and greatest figure sculptor, lived and worked in the late Ming period, around the late 16th and early 17th centuries. His figures are characterised by remarkable sculptural quality, with the most delicate facial features and bold garment folds. He is mainly known through his extant work, which often bears his seals, but very little is recorded about the man himself. His works defined the characteristic Dehua style, and his images, which have provided models for porcelain sculpture until today, established a standard that has never since been reached again.

The present figure is a particularly large and finely modelled example of a well-known group of sculptures depicting the God of Literature, designed by He. A similar figure with a square He Chaozong mark, from the Koger collection in the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Florida, was included in the exhibition Blanc de Chine. Divine Images in Porcelain, China Institute Gallery, New York, 2002, cat. no. 40, and is also illustrated in Rose Kerr and John Ayers, Blanc de Chine. Porcelain from Dehua, Chicago, 2002, p. 32, fig. 21, together with a smaller figure from the Hickley collection, with a sceptre in the right hand, cat. no. 27; another smaller figure is compared with a slightly earlier model cast in bronze in Robert H. Blumenfield, Blanc de Chine. The Great Porcelain of Dehua, Berkeley and Toronto, 2002, p. 105; a further example with a sceptre, illustrated in P.J. Donnelly, Blanc De Chine: The Porcelain of Tehua in Fukien, New York and Washington, 1969, p. 145D, was sold twice in our London rooms, 19th July 1955, lot 90, and 14th April 1970, lot 145, and again Christie's New York, 17th September 2010, lot 1389; another figure with a sceptre in the Meiyintang collection is included in Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, London, 1994-2010, vol. 2, no. 1004.

See a figure of Caishen, the God of Wealth, also impressed with a square mark of He but with a coin in one hand, in the collection of the Royal Ontario MuseumToronto, accession no. 922.20.124.

Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art including Jades from the De An Tang Collection and Gardens of Pleasure – Erotic Art from the Bertholet Collection, Hong Kong, 29 April 2022