Green, iron-red, aubergine, and black enamels on colourless glaze on porcelain; moulded in the form of a young boy wearing a child's apron (doudu) covering his chest and abdomen to just above his groin and bracelets on both wrists and ankles, holding a peach, the stubbly, shaved head painted in a thin aubergine enamel, the underside of the feet glazed; the interior unglazed Jingdezhen, 18101860 Height: 9.45 cm Mouth: 0.5 cm Stopper: coral
Condition: End of the penis broken off; otherwise, kiln condition
Provenance: Dwight C. Harris Christie's, London, 13 November, 1961, lot 10 Lydia Tovey Sotheby's, London, 28 April 1987, lot 650
Published: JICSBS, Summer 1987, p. 28 Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no. 158 Treasury 6, no. 1339
Exhibited: Hong Kong Museum of Art, MarchJune 1994 National Museum of Singapore, November 1994February 1995
This rare model of a boy holding a peach is distinguished by the size of the head and the adult-like face. Despite the face, his garb is definitely of a type reserved for children, so the exposure of his genitalia would not raise eyebrows in most parts of the world.
The colours are drawn from the famille verte palette, and the overall feeling of the child is somewhat similar to a group of well-known pairs of boys made in large quantities during the Kangxi period, mostly, it seems, for export to Europe. If such figures were the inspiration for this bottle, it is a good rationale for the use of the traditional palette. The use of a very thin wash of aubergine to depict the shaven head is both unusual and remarkably effective. The enamel is so diluted that the individual grains of finely ground glass can be seen in a wash of palest purple, making for an ideal depiction of stubbly hair.
The fact that the interior is unglazed may be an indication that it is from the earlier end of the dating range we suggest. Whenever it was made, it is a striking model dramatized by the restrained use of a limited palette of bold colours.
A similar bottle was offered at auction in the U.S. in 1921 (Glickman 2006, p. 10, fig. 1.19); other related bottles are in Hall 1996, no. 3, JICSBS, Winter 1985, p. 25, and JICSBS, Autumn 1998, p. 1, although none is from the same mould.