FIGURE GROUP OF TWO DANCERS
Qianlong c 1750-1752
Height: 6 ¼ inches; 16cm
A fine and rare figural group of two dancers modelled after a Meissen original and brightly enamelled in famille rose, the man with yellow hat, blue waistcoat and red breeches, the woman with red waistcoat and skirt with purple flowers, the base with modelled flowers scattered between their feet.
This model was first made by Johann Friedrich Eberlein in 1735 for Meissen and was reworked by Johann Joachim Kändler and listed in his Taxa of 1743 as "Harlequin and a maiden doing a Polish dance, possibly the Mazurka." It was a very popular group and was copied by Bow, Chelsea and Derby. This is the finest of export figures modelled after European groups and very few examples are known, each having slightly different decoration to the clothing of the figures. However when the wreck of the VOC ship Geldermalsen was salvaged in 1985 five damaged examples were recovered though they were white, having lost their enamels due to the corrosion of the seawater. The ship sank in 1752 so a date for these pieces can be proposed with reasonable accuracy!
This group also probably served as inspiration for another rare figure group of a Dutch couple dancing. The legs are splayed in the same way though the modelling is much clumsier and with less movement.
REFERENCES: HOWARD, David S. (1994), The Choice of the Private Trader, p253, cat 300, illustrations of a headless pair from the Geldermalsen wreck and an original Meissen group; JORG, CJA (1986) The Geldermalsen History and Porcelain, p104, fig 102 an example from the wreck; SCHEURLEER, LUNSINGH DF (1974) Chinese Export Porcelain: Chine de Commande, p cat 331, an example of this group in the Groninger Museum; WIRGIN, Jan (1998) Fran KINA till EUROPA, p203, cat 221 another example with very similar colouring; DU BOULAY, Anthony (1963), Chinese Porcelain, p92, fig 128 another example; SARGENT,William R (1991) The Copeland Collection, Chinese and Japanese Ceramic Figures in the Peabody Museum, p222,223, an example of the Dutch couple dancing; COHEN, M AND MOTLEY, W (2008) Mandarin and Menagerie, p292, another example illustrated.
Similar examples are also in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.