A ‘Blanc-de-Chine’ Dehua figure of “Adam”. Kangxi period

A standing figure of a man draped in a cloth and bare from the waist up, wearing bracelets, on rockwork base, covered in a cream glaze.

Period :
Kangxi (1662-1722), ca. 1690
9.05 in. (23,5 cm)
Reference :

Related works

P.J. Donnelly, Blanc de Chine, The Porcelain of Tehua in Fukien, London, 1969, pl. 121 C.

J. Ayers, Blanc de Chine, Divine Images in Porcelain, China Institute Gallery, New-York, 2002, no. 55, p. 104 (The Koger Collection, The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, The State Art Museum of Florida)

W. R. Sargent, Treasures of Chinese Export Porcelain Ceramics, from the Peabody Essex Museum, 2012, no. 103, p. 214/215 (gift of the Chinese Porcelain Company, 1998).

D. Howard & John Ayers, China for the West, 1978, vol. I, no. 54, p. 93, where the authors state ‘Two sizes of the female figure are recorded in the first year of the Dresden Inventory, 1721’  (from the Mottaheded Collection).

Marchant & Sons, Blanc de Chine, London, 1985, no. 53, p.30.

Another pair, with Chinese hairstyles, from the collection of John T. Dorrance Jr, Gladwyne, Pennsylvania was included by Marchant in their exhibition of Blanc de Chine, 1994, no. 20, p. 30


Traditionally these figures are known as Adam and Eve. Usually the female figure is depicted with the same hairstyle as the male; in this case the female has a European-style high piled coiffure.

This figures have variously been described as “slaves” or “Adam & Eve”, but it could be based on prints or carved wood models, possibly of the type made to depict natives of exotic regions.

The early eighteenth-century European interest in “native” cultures and depictions of their people cannot be overlooked as a source and inspiration for these figures. Seventeenth-century travel books and maps published in Europe frequently illustrated peoples of various countries in their typical states of dress (or undress). In fact, such publications were the ultimate sources for imagery found on Japanese screens, Chinese scrolls, and albums depicting people of the world.

The 1721 inventory of Auguste II the Strong, Elector of Saxony, lists similar figures and their measurements are similar to those for these models.

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