Porcelain with overglaze enamels and gilt-work
Height: 42.5 cm / 16.7 in
Width: 23.5 cm / 9.3 in (at widest point)
From an American Midwest private collection, acquired in the 1980s
A magnificent and unusual figure of Buddha in dhyanasana on a cloud enveloped plinth covered with a robin’s egg glaze, dragons near the base; the gilt figure wearing a voluminous cofe-au-lait robe decorated in gilding with phoenixes and flowers, and an elaborate necklace of beads glazed in purple, blue, and gold; with tightly coiled hair in bright blue.
Figures such as these are rare but appear in major auctions from time to time (refer to Sotheby’s NY in 1973 and 2011, as well as other examples included below). Western experts have traditionally dated these Buddhas as 18/19th century. However, judging by the porcelain paste and glaze, I believe these figures are closer to a late Qing / Republic date. Regardless, this Buddha is a magnificent work of Chinese art; the modeling of its face is one of the most haunting images of Buddha I’ve seen. The workmanship is also extremely meticulous: there is fine detailing of the tongues of the dragons, phoenixes on the robes, and the Buddha’s finger nails.
This porcelain figure of Buddha, with its Robin’s egg blue and cafe-au-lait color scheme, may have been created as an alter set. This Buddha in dhyanasana would have been the centerpiece, while other attending bodhisattvas and acolytes would have been placed to the left and right. For a very similar porcelain figure of Buddha, see Sotheby’s sale N08763 Lot 227 (Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art. September 14, 2011). Another example sold at Sotheby’s London in 26 July 1973 (lot 319, Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art). For examples of the attending bodhisattvas, see Christie’s sale 2427 lot 1748; Sotheby’s sale N09006 Lot 52; Sotheby’s sale N08872 lot 291; Sotheby’s sale N08974 lot 186.
An old collector’s brocade box is included.
Condition report: Good antique condition – one of the dragon whiskers have been replaced with a metal wire of similar thickness, and there’s possible touch up to the Buddha’s hair (due to enamel flaking from the kiln); the vintage box is slightly warped from age. [Please examine all photos carefully, as they are part of the condition report.]