Impressed on the bottom of each with the four-character potter's mark of Hing Yun Luen. Porcelain; height (of each) 6 ½ inches. Gift of the Copeland Collection.
When true (opposing) pairs were not available, it was not unusual for eighteenth-century European collectors to buy multiples of the same model, like these two figures, to form geometric installations. These particular figures are notable for the impressed four-character potter's mark on the bases because, unlike potters in Dehua and Yixing, those in Jingdezhen did not traditionally mark their wares. The figure exhibits physical characteristics associated with Mile-fo, the fat-belly Buddha, a non-historical character derived from the Maitreaya-or Merciful One-Buddha who, by the Song dynasty (960-1279) was one of the most popular gods in East Asia. A gouache-on-paper painting from an album in the museum's collection identifies a similar (if slimmer) figure simply as Hao chung, or a monk. Inscribed on the interior cover of the album is, "I bought these Chinese drawings for 16 Guineas at the Auction of Mr. Martin the Supercargos Effects in March 1747, P. Yorke." We do not know who Yorke was, but Martin was a supercargo on the East India Company ship Hastings in 1745.
Portrait of a Monk, Guangzhou, c. 1730. Gouache on paper, 21 ¾ by 16 ⅞ inches. Photograph by Walter Silver.