A very fine & rare pair of papier-mâché Chinese Nodding Figures,
A very fine & rare pair of papier-mâché Chinese Nodding Figures,
A very fine & rare pair of papier-mâché Chinese Nodding Figures,
A very fine & rare pair of papier-mâché Chinese Nodding Figures,
A very fine & rare pair of papier-mâché Chinese Nodding Figures,

A very fine & rare pair of papier-mâché Chinese Nodding Figures,

c. 1810 China

Offered by Martyn Cook Antiques (Pty Ltd)

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A very fine & rare pair of papier-mâché Chinese Nodding Figures, similar to those in the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, of a noble man & lady, papier-mâché bodies wooden heads, the whole with polychrome decoration & the man with hair queue & moustache. Canton 19th Century. H: 98cm incl. black stands.
Chinese nodding-head figures are first documented in England and Continental Europe as early as the 1760's - and indeed Zoffany's famous portrait of Queen Charlotte in her Dressing Room at Buckingham Palace painted in 1764 shows two such figures in the background (C. Saumarez Smith, Eighteenth Century Decoration, New York, 1993, p. 255, fig. 246). A related group of 'twenty-four figures of Chinese burnt clay with colouring 13 inches high, representing the Emperor and Empress of China and the whole Imperial household' are in the Danish Royal collection, acquired in an auction in 1777; a pair from the group is illustrated in B. Dam-Mikkelsen and T. Lundbaek, Ethnographic Objects in the Royal Danish Kunstkammer 1650-1800, pp. 173-179.

The vast majority were imported into England, Europe and America from Canton from the 1780's well into the early 19th Century. The great interest in these figures in England is derived in large part from the personal tastes of the Prince of Wales, later George IV. The Prince's interest in Chinese decoration was first expressed in his Chinese Drawing Room at Carlton House; however his desire to create an Oriental fantasy culminated in The Brighton Pavilion of 1802. The final achievement, an ornate palace of fantastical proportions, was due to the combined efforts of the Prince himself and his principal designers, John and Frederick Crace, over the next twenty-five years. A number of Chinese figures of this type were prominently displayed in the corridor of the Pavilion (J. Morley, The Making of the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, Boston, 1984, pp. 169-176).

Although the specific manufacturers and dates of such 'nodding head' figures - whether for Export or in Europe - are comparatively rarely recorded, a documented pair of nodding-head figures dating to 1803 'copied from the life and brought from Canton' are in the collection at the Peabody Museum in Salem, Massachusetts (C.L. Crossman, The China Trade, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1991, p.317, col.pl. 112). Similarly, a group of related nodding-head figures were sold from the collection of David Style, Esq., Christie's house sale, Wateringbury Place, Maidstone, Kent, 31 May-2 June 1978, lots 200-204. Some of these figures were signed 'J.D. Gianelli...August 25 1807'. Gianelli was probably Dominico Gianelli (d. 1841), assumed to be the son of the sculptor in plaster J.B. Gianelli, who supplied four statues for the Great Hall of Carlton House in 1789 (R. Gunnis, The Dictionary of British Sculptors, 1965, pp. 166-67).
A paint analysis conducted by University College London revealed 'French ultramarine was amongst the pigments used, so the figures cannot be any earlier than 1828. Lead white was also used, so they cannot be any later than the first decades of the 20th century. The condition of the paintwork suggests they are later rather than earlier, so it would be reasonable to guess that they were late nineteenth-century, or turn of twentieth. The figures are in near-perfect condition, with very little restoration, and what retouching there is must be quite recent, as it involves the pigment titanium dioxide white which was not widely used until the 1960s. In view of the fact that this type of figure often stood beneath a glass dome, they may equally well date from rather earlier in the 19th Century, the dome accounting for the remarkable state of preservation.
Dimensions
Height 95.00 cm (37.40 inches)
Stock Code
SHP094
Martyn Cook Antiques (Pty Ltd)

Martyn Cook Antiques (Pty Ltd)
98 Barcom Avenue
Rushcutters Bay
NSW
2025
Australia

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