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Subject:Interesting Porcelain Immortal with sealed cavity
Posted By: Mike Sat, Jul 29, 2017 IP:

Greetings, I was not able to find comparables of this figure in the online auction listings, but was fortunate to come across reference to Mr. Lee and this forum. The reading here has already been very informative, thank you!

Any comments on this piece would be helpful. It is from my grandmother's estate, which I'm handling. She was an antique dealer in New York City and South Florida from the 40's to early 70's. Unfortunately we do not have her cataloging of things - an eclectic lot that she retained in her retirement.

I have not seen other figurines with the sealed cavity. I'm wondering if this adds value, of course! No "China" export marks are apparent.


Subject:Re: Interesting Porcelain Immortal with sealed cavity
Posted By: TD Sun, Jul 30, 2017

If this Taoist immortal figure is from the Qianlong period, it would not have a country of origin stamp or mark.

Subject:Re: Interesting Porcelain Immortal with sealed cavity
Posted By: Mike Mon, Jul 31, 2017

Thanks TD. So that suggests it predates 1890, when the origin country marking was first required, I believe?

Subject:Re: Interesting Porcelain Immortal with sealed cavity
Posted By: Bill H Thu, Aug 03, 2017

I believe mid-to-late 19th century is a safe bet for dating your figurine, which was made to resemble the early Qing Kangxi-period (1662-1722) style of modeling. See the link for examples in a three-color (sancai) palette, as sold in the USA by the respected North Carolina auctioneer, Brunk.

I perceive some differences in the Kangxi enamels and clays used for period-molded images, when compared to figures like yours, which exhibit a biscuit tone and clay consistency more like what's used at Shiwan, where the popular "mudmen" are made. However, the resemblance to Kangxi-era molded figures seems to have ensured that such items will command noteworthy prices, depending on their condition. I've seen complete sets of all Eight of these Immortals priced at almost a thousand dollars apiece at antique shows & sales in recent years. Yours would have a more modest value due to apparent restoration and breakage around the midriff and elsewhere.

You're on the right track in this case about the sealed cavity increasing value, because by the early 20th century, Chinese molding of figurines like these had switched to the easier and less expensive method called "slip-casting", where the "slip" (thick glaze) was swirled around and allowed to dry through several coats inside a flexible or separable mold before it was taken out, decorated and fired.

I've included some photos below of three examples of these Immortal figures in my own collection. The cost was only US$30-$40 each, based on the seller's assessment of value and condition. Their plinths are painted and shaped somewhat more evenly than on yours, possibly a sign that yours is a few years older. One of these figures is marked in a black pigment with the character "feng" (a mountain peak, summit or thing of value. I assume this may be a factory name or potter's given name. However, the presence of fingerprints and lack of export markings indicates all likely date from circa 1890 or earlier.

Best regards,

Bill H.

Subject:Re: Interesting Porcelain Immortal with sealed cavity
Posted By: Bill H Fri, Aug 04, 2017

My apologies for failing to add the intended link, which I belatedly tack on, along with a other examples I located of figures like the ones posted here, except the sellers consider them possibly to be Kangxi-period.

Best regards,

Bill H.

URL Title :Kangxi Biscuit Painted Figures

Subject:Re: Interesting Porcelain Immortal with sealed cavity
Posted By: Mike Fri, Aug 04, 2017

Thanks Bill! Your knowledge sharing is much appreciated, useful and stimulates me to find out more about these Chinese ceramic works.

Those figurines really are in excellent condition. Amazing to think they are more than a century old and evidently cared for that whole time.

I also continue to enjoy the wealth of artifacts and information that have been contributed to this forum. AsianArt is really a great example of how the internet can be used enrich us culturally. I have already recommended it to friends!

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