A famille verte enamel on biscuit figure of an immortal
Kangxi period, 17th century, China
Height: 14.5cm Width: 6cm
This small biscuit figure of a Daoist immortal, possibly Lu Dongbin, is decorated in enamels in the famille verte palette of black, green, yellow, and pale violet. Lu Dongbin is the most well-known of the eight immortals, and is sometimes considered their leader. Lu Dongbin was a real man who was born in China around 796 CE. He was a T’ang period poet and scholar. According to legend, he became an immortal after completing ten trials set by Zhongli Quan, another one of the eight immortals, which included daring to drink a potion that would either kill him or make him immortal, and surviving. In art, he is usually depicted as a scholar with a long black beard and a black scholars hat.
The figure is wearing a traditional scholar’s hat decorated in black enamel. His beard is also highlighted in black, and his face, hands, and feet are left plain white. He is standing with his feet slightly turned to the side and his right hand raised. His left hand is not visible as it is covered by his long sleeve. The inside of his sleeves, his feet, which are slightly visible beneath his robe, and his belt are left unglazed. He is wearing a baggy robe tied with a white belt low at his waist. The robe is decorated with a checker pattern of black, green, yellow, and pale violet squares. The edge of his collar has a light violet border with black stripes. He is standing on a hexagonal pedestal with a white top and bottom. The rim of the white top and bottom panels is highlighted with cold-painted red. The central front three panels of the pedestal have a geometric diamond design in green and yellow. Two of the back three panels have the outline of a flower, and the central panel has an abstract diamond-shape, all painted in black.
Pair of famille verte figures with very similar base design and overall colour palette and style. Mandarin and Menagerie: Chinese and Japanese Export Ceramic Figures. Volume 1: The James E. Sowell Collection. By Michael Cohen and William Motley. 2008. Figure 1.4, Page 55.