A Chinese figure of a parrot decorated with famille verte enamels on the biscuit. Kangxi period

Naturalistically moulded in two halves, perched on a pierced rock work base and with folded wings. Its head is turned slightly to the right and the beak is open. The body is decorated with two shades  of green enamel and the eyes are pencilled in black, while the claws and beak are left in the biscuit. Traces of vermillon can be seen of the beak. The hollow rockwork base is painted in the “egg-and-spinach” pattern.

Period :
Kangxi (1662-1722)
Porcelain decorated with famille verte enamels on the biscuit
6.69 in. (17 cm)
Reference :

Related works

A very similar figure of a parrot (with an unusual yellow base) is published by Jorge Welsh in Biscuit: Refined Chinese Famille Verte Wares, Jorge Welsh Books, London and Lisbon, October, 2012, no. 54.

Another very similar figure is in the Vergottis collection (Lausanne) and published J. Ayers in, La collection de porcelaines chinoises de Marie Vergottis, 2005, p. 95, no. 72.

Early figures of famille verte parrots are also illustrated by J. Ayers in Chinese Works of Art in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen, London, 2016, vol. I, no. 540-541.

Among early examples are those mounted in gilt bronze as part of chandeliers which were installed royal European castles, at the palace of Versailles. Examples were also found in the porcelain room of Charlottenburg, or in the inventory of the Dresden Collection of August the Strong in 1700.

Examples from the Peabody Essex Museum are also illustrated by William Sargent in The Copeland Collection: Chinese and Japanese Ceramic Figures, 1991, no. 37/38. 


In China, parrots are found in the wild in the warmer southern provinces. Other birds of the same genus such as macaws, cockatoos and parakeets, were imported and kept as caged bird in China for thousands years. In the Tang dynasty (618-907), exotic birds were brought to the imperial court from Indochina and Indonesia. Emperor Xuanzong adopted a talking parrot as a pet and Emperor Taizong commissioned a rhapsody to be written about his own prized parrot.

They have fascinated Europeans, as the exotic birds themselves were introduced as domestic pets during the lat fifteenth and early sixteenth century, living curiosities acquired during the explorations of Asia and America. Parrots were much admired for their colorful plumage, their art of mimicry and their longevity. Parrots were depicted in the still-life paintings of the seventeenth century, along with underglaze blue porcelains and exotic fruits from China and others ports.

During Kangxi reign (1662-1722), parrot depicted in various colors of porcelain, were popular in the West because of their vibrant and exotic appearance. During the 18th century, the taste for parrots was further encouraged by the fashion for exotic orientalist, when having live parrots was also popular. Models of small parrots ere found in the VOC wreck Oosterland which sank in 1697.

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