Description & Technical information

Qianlong period
English Market
A Chinese export porcelain figure of a girl wearing a red dress with a blue underskirt and a green fur-lined coat, on a small moulded green base.

The girl poses coquettishly with her head tilted sideways and she wears clothes in the Turquerie style which was fashionably exotic throughout the 18th century. Western Europe was fascinated by the styles of the Ottoman Empire and it was popular to have portraits painted in Turkish dress. The fashion received a boost in 1762 with the publication of the best selling letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, concerning her time in Turkey from 1717, while her husband was ambassador there.
This figure is extremely rare and appears to belong to a small group of export figures copying European examples, all of about the same date, made in the same workshop and probably all part of just one order in the private trade. These figures are quite close copies of their European models (where the model is known) and all seem to have this particlar semi-translucent use of coloured enamels that pools in the folds of the drapery in a manner that is unusual for Chinese enamelling.
The Meissen figure is the original model for this figure but the Bow, Derby and Chinese copies have all added the turquerie clothing to cater to fashion. This suggests that the English porcelain models could have been the ones used by the supercargo and taken to China rather than the Miessen example.
Clearly this venture was not commercially successful and very few examples of any of these figures are recorded. At this time the material for European porcelain was expensive but that would have been a lesser consideration for these small figures.


Date:  1760
Period:  1750-1850, 18th century
Origin:  China
Medium: porcelain
Dimensions: 13 cm (5¹/₈ inches)
Literature: References: Howard & Ayers 1974, p619, No 649, an example of this figure and the Chinese model of a boy in ‘Turkish’ dress - and also a Meissen example of the girl; Howard (1994) p256, No304, two examples of this figure, one in almost identical colouring; and No 305, a figure of the matching boy; the Victoria and Albert Museum in London has a range of similar figures (see illustrations).

Categories: Oriental and Asian Art