The Bodhisattva Collection

A Fine Kangxi (1662-1722) Blanc de Chine Dignitary

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Chinese: Porcelain: Pre 1800: Item # 936591
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From our Chinese Monochrome Collection, a fine blanc de chine (dehua) porcelain figure of a seated dignitary, Kangxi Period (1662-1722), seated on a low plinth and crisply modeled with an elaborate dragon badge to chest, a ruyi scepter in his left hand, and a pensive downward gaze. Holes under the ears and around the mouth were originally for placement of animal hair to form the beard. In virtually perfect condition, there are two small firing cracks, but these are original to the manufacture and not considered damage.

Cherished by Chinese and Western connoisseurs for more than three hundred years, blanc de chine (literally "white of China") was the name given by the nineteenth-century French to a class of white Chinese porcelain manufactured primarily during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries at Dehua in Fujian Province. Blanc de chine can be a difficult area not only for the casual collector, but even experts as well. Due to the simplistic monochromatic nature of the blanc de chine porcelain itself, very convincing copies have been made, and they can be tricky to date correctly. Even the blanc-de-chine expert Donnelly, who pioneered the first authoritative work on this subject, was fooled by a few 20th century fakes which made their way into his book and were misidentified as 17th and 18th century pieces. Nevertheless, with the benefit of 40 years of additional study beyond Donnelly's time, we can now better distinguish between early pieces and later reproductions. This seated dignitary is a genuine Kangxi Period blanc-de-chine piece, and not only genuine, but a rarely encountered form as well. For comparison sake, Guanyin figures are by far the most commonly encountered form, whereas seated dignitaries like this example are much less common. Among the several signs of authenticity is the evidence of "press mold" construction which is correct for the time period, compared to many modern copies which have been slip-cast and exhibit different interior characteristics. Compare this piece to Lot 210, Sotheby's, Sale NO7865, January 2003, a comparable but smaller seated dignitary, and lacking the dragon badge.

Size: A sizeable example at 9 ½” tall (24 cm) x 5” wide (12.7 cm).