A glazed porcelain monkey

18th century Chinese export

Height: 17cm

The monkey is seated with legs apart one hand scratching under his chin, the other resting on his right knee. The face has been painted with an iron red wash, the eyes gilded creating an intense wild expression with open mouth revealing teeth. The monkeys body has been decorated with thin grisaille strokes imitating hair.

Monkey figures appear with great regularity in export Dehua wares, perhaps reflecting the popularity of monkeys as pets on ships travelling to Europe from China. Like the parrot, the monkey was an exotic pet that found its way to Europe in the sixteenth century via the maritime trade routes, and both spices became popular subjects for artists and collectors. Augustus the Strong, for instance, owned fifteen examples of Dehua monkeys by 1721.

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