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© The Frick Collection
Period: Chinese, Qing Dynasty (1644–1912)
Two Figures of Ladies on Stands, 1662−1722
Hard-paste porcelain with polychrome overglaze
38 × 10 1/4 × 10 1/4 in. (96.5 × 26 × 26 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest
Accession number: 1918.8.39
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Commentary:

A particularly fruitful and innovative period of production, the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries saw the development of new techniques and styles of ornamentation. One of the most important contributions was the invention of overglaze enamel palettes, known as famille vert because they are dominated by translucent green glazes. This porcelain figure of an elegant lady on a stand, and its pair, 1918.8.40, are decorated with a colorful mix of green, red, yellow, auber­gine, and blue glazes in a pattern of naturalistic motifs including chrysanthemums, rose blossoms, and flying storks combined with abstract elements like the large wan—a swastika-shaped Buddhist symbol for good fortune—that is repeated on the porcelain bases. The women represent ideal female beauty, as defined by the seventeenth-century writer and aesthetician Li Yu (1611–1680): egg-shaped rather than round faces, eyebrows lightly curved like the leaves of a willow tree, lips resembling cherries, and slim, supple, curved bodies also resembling willow trees. Their deli­cate hands seem to be offering a fruit or a flower, in China the sign of a good wish extended from a woman to a man. These two figural ceramics were probably made for export to the West; however, their large size made them particularly fragile to ship, and only a few ever reached Europe.

Source: Vignon, Charlotte. The Frick Collection Decorative Arts Handbook. New York: The Frick Collection/Scala, 2015.

Collections:

J. Pierpont Morgan, London and New York, 1907. Duveen. Frick, 1918.

Source: Porcelains in The Frick Collection: Oriental and French. Volume VII. New York: The Frick Collection, 1974.