Pair of Decorative Groups

Object Details


Pair of Decorative Groups


Porcelain maker Unknown maker, Chinese

Bronzier Unknown maker, French

Flowers made at the Chantilly Porcelain Manufactory (French, active about 1725 - about 1792)


Chinese and French


figures 1662 - 1722; spheres 1736-1795; flowers about 1740


Hard- and soft-paste porcelain, polychrome enamel decoration; gilt-bronze mounts

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French craftsmen combined diverse pieces of Chinese porcelain in an inventive arrangement to create these decorative groups. The two boys, originally freestanding porcelain sculptures, were known as the Immortal Twins; they were the patrons of Chinese potters and merchants. The so-called fo dogsare in fact Buddhist lions. These porcelain lions were originally fixed to the top of the porcelain rocks but are now separated by pierced porcelain spheres. The globe-shaped balls were used in China as pomanders, filled with flowers or solid balls of perfume.

A Parisian marchand-mercier would have purchased the figures, the lions mounted on the rocks, and the spheres; he then directed French craftsmen to make a gilt bronze base cast with small lizards, snails, and shells. To establish a connection between the different parts, he directed the workmen to place the boys so that they seem to peer into the perfume balls; he added French porcelain flowers on gilt bronze branches to further adorn the design.

The original French owner of the groups would have appreciated the exotic decorations but would probably not have recognized their original Chinese function or significance.

Related Works

Silverman, Deborah. Selling Culture (New York, 1986), pp. 52-53.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 3rd ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1991), p. 172.

Bremer-David, Charissa et al. Decorative Arts: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue of the Collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1993), p. 152, no. 255.

Friedman, Ann, and Diane Brigham. "Art transformed when West meets East." School Arts (November 1994), pp. 25-28.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 4th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 203.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 6th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), p. 203.

Wilson, Gillian, and Catherine Hess. Summary Catalogue of European Decorative Arts in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), p. 132, no. 266.