In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Asian countries were a source of considerable fascination and allure to Europeans. Asian figures were frequently chosen as subjects to decorate ceramics and other works of art produced in Europe, but these depictions were rarely based on firsthand knowledge and thus were usually fanciful. This figure of a Chinese man seated with a globe was intended to be decorative, but also may allude to China’s sophisticated understanding of astronomy during this period.
Jacques Doucet (before 1912; sale, Paris, 1912, no. 206) ; Mortimer L. Schiff (before 1938) ; [ sale, Christie's, New York , June 22, 1938, lot 24; sold for £861 ] ; A. Chester Beatty ; [ sale, Christie's, London , November 29, 1973, lot 49; sold to Dillon ] ; Douglas Dillon , New York (1973–2003; bequeathed to MMA)