- Museum number
Figure of Chinese musician in arbour; soft-paste porcelain; one of a pair; seated man facing slightly to right, left leg crossed over right, plays a mandolin; body sheltered by elaborate tellised structure adorned with applied leaves and white blossoms and surmounted by umbrella-like ornament with pendant bells on four supports; raised base decorated with applied flowers, rests on four scroll feet above which is pierced apron surmounted by trellis; extended at each side is candlestick-branch, disguised by applied flowers; base and flat partly glazed top pierced by circular hole; feet unglazed; marked.
- Production date
Height: 33.40 centimetres
- Curator's comments
The pair of triangular trellis placed above the pierced apron in front of the figures is not in its original position. It appears to have been damaged historically and apparently reduced in height so that it does not sit neatly. The pair at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is missing the entire trellis but there are traces of it, so presumably damaged, and the example sold at Bonham's in 2004, shows traces of the narrow outer edges of the trellis. The example sold at Sotheby's in 1980, shows an additional row of vertical 'battons', missing on the British Museum examples, predating its acquisition. The Metropolitan Museum example does have its original porcelain nozzels and bobeches.
Pair with 1948,1203.58
A similar candlestick group was sold at Bonham's, Fine British Ceramics, Glass and Enamels, 2 June 2004, lot 193, estimate £1,200-1,500.
Dawson 1987 [comment relating to the pair]
There is another pair of musicians in arbours bearing the gold anchor mark and differently coloured in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (reg. no. 14.58.91 and 92, bequeathed by John L. Cadwalader, 1914). An example of the male figure from a private collection in Melbourne, Australia was exhibited at the National Gallery of Victoria, November 1984-February 1985 ('Flowers and Fables, a survey of Chelsea Porcelain 1745-69', cat. compiled by M. Legge, no. 148, illus. p. 63), sold at Sotheby's, 20 May 1980, lot 14.
It was discovered during conservation work that the front right-hand scroll 'foot', which was incorrectly aligned, had been broken at the time the group was made and the inner surface of the break glazed, presumably as a means of refixing.
These figures are amongst the most elaborate of all Chelsea of the gold anchor period. The only other figures in the Museum collection from this period of the factory's activity are reg. no. 1948,1203.57 and the 'Roman Charity', illustrated by A. Lane, 'English Porcelain Figures of the Eighteenth Century', London, 1961, pl. 28.
The Derby factory made a similar pair of figures (see F. Barrett and A. Thorpe, 'Derby Porcelain', London, 1971, p. 23 and fig. 72).
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1987 Jun 10-Jun 15, London, International Ceramics Fair and Seminar Ltd, 'International Ceramics Fair and Seminar'
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number