Chinese porcelain nodding head figures make 188% increase on estimate

A set of four Chinese porcelain nodding head figures made $173,000 against a $60,000 estimate at Christie's New York on January 27 - an increase of 188.3%.

The lot dates to the Qianlong era (1735-1796) and comprises two court officials and two women, which stand at just over 17 inches tall.

They were previously owned by an 18th century Roman cardinal, and are likely to have been specially commissioned.

Chinese porcelain nodding head
The set of four porcelain nodding head figures dates to the 18th century

The quality and size of the figures places them among the rarest examples of figurative export porcelain, while their composition as couples further enhances their desirability.

The sale consisted of items produced by China for the Western market, a trade that began in the 16th century when porcelain was first exported to Europe.

A Canton Famille Rose dinner service was another highlight, achieving $149,000 against a $40,000 estimate - up 272.5%.

Dating to 1815, each piece features elaborate enamelled court scenes with a band of greenery around the edge.

A painting by the school of Spoilum, circa 1794, made $149,000.

Titled The Viceroy of Canton Receives Lord Macartney, the piece commemorates the arrival of the first British envoy to China.

Macartney was tasked with asking permission to set up a permanent embassy in the region to oversee British interests - a request that was unequivocally denied.

Spoilum (1770-1810) was one of the first Chinese painters to adopt Western techniques, after travelling in Europe and the US.

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