Exotic Figure


about 1740
Made at Mennecy Manufactory (France)


Overall: 11.1 x 6.6cm (4 3/8 x 2 5/8in.) Other (at base): 7.6cm (3in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Soft-paste porcelain with colored enamel decoration

On View

Charles C. Cunningham Gallery (Gallery 247)





The two figures, a man and a woman, are seated on grassy mounds. They have the large heads and small hands and feet of dwarfs, and the woman has elongated earlobes. They are pre-molded with heads, hands, and legs refined by the repairer. The man, no. 55a, wears a long mustard yellow, one-piece garment open at the front, with wide sleeves and a double clasp at the chest; it is edged with an iron-red line and decorated with an allover pattern of small red sunbursts. They clasp is pale manganese purple with red-star-like designs. At the back, a powdered manganese purple cape falls from under the collar to the ground. On his head is a cap the falls loosely from his forehead back to the top of his collar; it has a molded red and black feather at the top front. Lined with red, the cap has a pattern of red sunbursts set in diamonds, intersected by white stripes outlined in black. the man wears manganese purple shoes with a red bow visible on the left. The inside of his lower lip is red, and his eyes, like those of his companion, are defined in black; the brows are a series of curved lines, a double line defines the upper lid, the pupil is encircled with dots, and the lower [part of the eye is dotted. The mounds on which the figures are seated were painted with an underglazed yellow, visible in areas at the lower edge that are bare of glaze, and the glaze, slightly bluish, has given it a green color, darker where it has pooled in crevasses.
The woman, no. 55b, wears a two-piece garment. The belted jacket, open at the front, has wide sleeves and a slit at the back; also colored with underglaze yellow, turned greenish by the glaze, it has an allover pattern of sprays of chrysanthemums and scrolling leaves in red, yellow, blue, and green, delineated in red and black, and there is a thin red line at all the edges. The woman’s skirt, pulled up to reveal her right leg almost to the knee, is turquoise green with scattered five-petalled florets, outlined in red and smaller red sunbursts. Her cap, which appears to have scalloped edge at the forehead, ends in two points over the collar at her back. It has a three-lobed red knop at the crown and is white with rows of red sunbursts and dotted florets, divided by black wavy lines; it is also lined in red. Her visible shoe is black with a red bow, and she wears a red garter below her knee. Her open mouth is defined inside with red, suggesting a tongue.
The slightly opaque quality of the glaze where it pools in some areas (e.g. on the yellow garment of the man) may indicate that the glade contains tin oxide. Some writers have mentioned the occasional presence of tin in the early period at Mennecy. The interiors are unglazed and show the creamy color of the paste. There are a few spots where the glaze has run through openings onto the inside. The mark is probably in cobalt blue, which looks black when not combine with the glaze materials. There are a few fire cracks conforming,
mainly, with the line where the two molded sections were joined.


Abbé Samson, Cayeux sur Mer, Somme, France. By 1967, Gilbert Lévy, Paris; November 23, 1967, sold by Gilbert Lévy at Hôtel Drouot, Paris. By 1982, with Rita and Frits Markus, Chatham, MA, and New York, NY [see note 1]; 1982, gift of Rita and Frits Markus. (Accession date: January 12, 1983)

[1] Note in MFA curatorial file suggests that these pieces were bought by Mrs. Denyse Shalam from Ader, Ader & Picard, Paris and given to Frits Markus.

Credit Line

Gift of Rita and Frits Markus