Figure of a Chinese Man

Figure of a Chinaman

Austrian (Vienna)
about 1720
Attributed to Du Paquier Factory, Vienna (1718–1744)


Object Place: Vienna, Austria

Dimensions

Height: 43.8 cm (17 1/4 in.)

Accession Number

2006.919

Medium or Technique

Hard-paste porcelain

On View

Angelica Lloyd Russell Gallery (Gallery 142)

Collections

Europe

Classifications

Ceramics

Continental, white figure, modeled standing in long robes, holding a sword, on a wave-molded base


This extremely rare figure clad in flowing robes and standing on a stylized cloud was based on Chinese models. In fact, for many years this was thought to be Chinese, not Austrian, porcelain. Originally, figures like this may have been placed above burning incense or charcoal so that smoke emerging from large holes in the back would create an exotic, theatrical effect.

Provenance

Porzellansammlung, Johanneum, Dresden. Probably by the 1920s, Herbert M. Gutmann (b. 1879 - d. 1942), Potsdam, Germany [see note 1]; April 12-14, 1934, Gutmann sale, Graupe, Berlin, lot 493, sold for RM 250 [see note 2]. January 19, 1965, anonymous sale (consigned by Hellinger), S.J. Mak van Waay, Amsterdam, lot 1148, to Stodel (dealer), London [see note 3]. November 23, 1965, anonymous sale, Sotheby's, London, lot 76, to Clemente. 1966, David Drey, Ltd., London; by 1968, sold by Drey to Mr. and Mrs. B. K. Blofeld, London; 1996, sold by Mrs. Blofeld, through Anton Gabszewicz, London, to Edward M. Pflueger (b. 1905 - d. 1997) and Kiyi Powers Pflueger (b. 1915 - d. 2006), New York; 2006, bequest of Edward M. Pflueger and gift of Kiyi Powers Pflueger to the MFA. (Accession Date: April 26, 2006)

NOTES:
[1] Herbert Gutmann is believed to have bought works of art from the Saxon Royal Family after the German Revolution of 1918. The present figure reportedly comes from the Johanneum, Dresden (see below, n. 2). By about the 1920s, it could be seen in photographs of the Chinese Room at the Gutmann home in Potsdam (the “Herbertshof”). See Vivian J. Rheinheimer, ed., Herbert M. Gutmann: Bankier in Berlin, Bauherr in Potsdam, Kunstsammler (Leipzig, 2007), p. 124.

[2] As a blanc de Chine Harlequin made in China about 1700. It is said to come from the Johanneum in Dresden.

[3] Lot 1148 comprised this figure as well as a comparable figure, lot no. 494 from the 1934 Gutmann sale. The items in lot 1148 are described as 18th century English, blanc-de Chine figures. According to the Mak van Waay archives, they sold to E. van Dam, although according to scholar John Mallet, they sold to the art gallery Stodel of London. Later that year, when the two figures were consigned anonymously to Sotheby’s, London, they were described as “a rare pair of early white Chinoiserie figures.”

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
Herbert Gutmann came from a German banking family that converted from Judaism to Protestantism in the nineteenth century. He was a director and served on the executive board of the Dresdner Bank, which his father, Eugen Gutmann, had founded. As a result of the banking crisis, Herbert Gutmann was forced to resign from the Dresdner Bank in September 1931. Over the course of the next few years, he gradually lost income and board appointments; his family moved out of their home at the Herbertshof; and in April, 1934, he sold most of his art collection through Paul Graupe, Berlin. At the same time, he was asked to repay substantial debts to the Dresdner Bank. The Gutmanns left Germany in 1936 and settled in London in 1937. Herbert Gutmann passed away in England in 1942.

In 2010, the United Kingdom's Spoliation Advisory Panel issued a report regarding a painting included in the 1934 auction. The Advisory Panel found that the collection was sold “in order to pay debts resulting from investments incurred before the Nazis came to power” and that “Gutmann’s loss of income and his consequential difficulty in paying his debt resulted from his enforced resignation from the executive board of the Dresdner Bank in 1931, in the course of the financial crisis of that year and had nothing to do with the fact that he was classified by the Nazis as Jewish.”

A PDF of the panel's report can be downloaded at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/report-of-the-spoliation-advi...

Credit Line

Kiyi and Edward M. Pflueger Collection. Bequest of Edward M. Pflueger and Gift of Kiyi Powers Pflueger