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Michael Pashby Antiques

A Highly Important and Interesting Carved Oak Figure of a Gentleman, Probably of Aristocratic or Even Royal Birth and Probably Carved in France c. 1690-1710


Our figure is made of multiple pieces of oak spliced together-see for example the way the base is joined underneath the figure's front foot.

These splices are definitely not repairs and the patination throughout is totally even, excluding that possibility completely. Unusual construction choices like this are often seen as signs of an Asian export origin as the European oak used to make this figure would have had to have been salvaged and reused as clearly it would not have grown in the Far East. However there are other aspects of the figure that suggest a European origin is more likely.

Perhaps significantly, the sash around the waist of the figure suggests a more elevated figure than a merchant. Although the Chinqua merchant figures are certainly luxuriously clothed, this figure seems to represent someone with even higher social status and attendant wealth. A print in the British Museum showing Louis the Grand Dauphin (1661-1711), the eldest son of King Louis XIV, provides an extremely interesting comparative.

This intriguing piece is something of an enigma of the best kind. It is an object of great quality that seems likely to be a representation of a real historical figure rather than being an image of a character from a contemporary play or another entirely imagined fictitious flight of fancy. We are delighted to be able to offer this piece to its next owner and it will provide a guaranteed talking point for all those who are lucky enough to see it.