A rare, fine and large famille rose group of lovers. Qianlong

Decorated in the famille rose palette, and depicting a couple with a man seated on a bench-like rock with a lady in his arms who is cleaning his ears. The woman’s hair is worn in a chignon held in place by a pin. She wears a deep blue robe with a cloud scroll motifs. One of her legs is straightened in a suggestive position.

Period :
Qianlong period (1736-1795), ca. 1750
8.85 in. (22.5 cm)
Reference :

Related works

In 1756, a group sold by Lazare Duvaux, should have represented the figure of a woman cleaning the ear of a man (Louis Courajod, Livre-journal de Lazare Duvaux, marchand bijoutier ordinaire du roi, 1748-1758, 1873, no. 2517 “Deux groupes de magots, le bâton à l’oreille”, sold by Lazare Duvaux to Count Valentinois)

For a very similar group depicting a pedicure, see William Sargent, The Copeland Collection: Chinese and Japanese Ceramic Figures, The Peabody Museum of Salem, 1991, p. 130.

For two groups, one depicting teeth cleaning and the second a drinking group, see Michael Cohen & William Motley in Mandarin and Menagerie, 2008, pp. 112/115, no. 6.1 and 6.3. See also Christie’s NYC, Mandarin & Menagerie: The Sowell Collection and Chinese Export Art from Various Owners, lot 41 & 43.

See also David S. Howard in The Choice of the Private Trader, the Private Market in Chinese Export Porcelain Illustrated from the Hodroff Collection, no. 306, p. 257.

For another group, see Marchant, 90th Anniversary Exhibition of Chinese Export Porcelain, 2015, no. 41


There are a few known figure groups of this type, depicting men with younger women engaged in everyday activities such as drinking wine, music lessons, ear-cleaning, teeth cleaning, smoking lessons, or a pedicure. These routines are evidently preliminary to sexual advances. In each of the figural groups conveying veiled eroticism, a young woman, a traditional beauty (meiren), was shown exposing a leg or a man adopting a suggestive attitude. As nakedness was taboo, even the slightest display of a leg would be considered more than daring. Because of the explicitness of these pieces, it has been suggested that they were made exclusively for the export market, although there must have been some interest in these figures within the domestic Chinese market.


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