A Chinese seated figure. Ming dynasty

A heavily-potted made figure seated on a large rectangular pedestal, with a tall three-panel screen behind him. He wears a court headdress and long robes. The robes are painted in turquoise and aubergine enamels. His face, hat and feet are left in biscuit.

Period :
Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), late 16th to early 17th c.
Porcelain decorated with turquoise and aubergine enamels on the biscuit
11.41 in. (29 cm)
Reference :

Related works

For two associated figures of this model (accidentally dated Kangxi), see Christie’s London, 16 july 2014, lot 545.

For a very closed but in green enamels, see Jorge Welsh, Biscuit – Refined Chinese Famille Verte Wares, 2012, no. 2, pp. 64 /67.

Another figure in green enamels is in the collections of the Musée Guimet in Paris (inv. no. G5722).


This piece represents a male figure of some status. Screens were important objects in the home in China, which were used to indicate the hight status of the person sitting in front of it. This figure probably represents the god of literature Wen Chang, who is typically depicted as an official wearing a hat, belt and long robes. He was widely worshipped by scholars hoping success in the imperial examinations, the primary route to official power and prestige in China. However, it is also possible that the present figure simply represents a scholar.

Representations of Wen Chang and other scholarly figures were particularly popular during the 17th century, as it was a period of political strife in which government positions were increasingly difficult to obtain. Incarnations of scholarly success may have been used as symbols of blessing and inspiration within the domestic environment, perhaps particularly within the study. Similar figures can be found in materials including wood, ivory and bronze, as well as in various porcelain wares.

By appointment only, 10th arrondissement, Paris. / +33 (0)6 26 57 59 87

Be the first to hear about the latest pieces, join the email list.