Mid-18th Century Indo-Portugese Ivory Doctors Figures

Value (2010) | $8,000 Auction$12,000 Auction

I brought some human figures that have been in my family for about 20 years. They were given to my father-in-law, who's a physician, by one of his patients kind of as a thank-you for all the years of service. And then he has then passed them on to my husband and myself. And my husband is also a physician.

They are what we like to refer to as doctors' figures, simply because they were anatomically correct, or as correct as possible. They are from Goa, which is on the west coast of India when it was a Portuguese colony. So they're what's called Indo-Portuguese from around about 1750. And there's even some speculation, based upon the carving of the eyes and the hairline, that they may have actually been carved by a Chinese artisan who was based in Goa. And what's very interesting about them, if I just slowly lift her arms up, she looks like a damsel in distress at this stage. And we remove the body here. You can see we have this stained ivory interior, which has, as far as they knew, all the most important parts. And then what's even more interesting is that we have an unborn child as well. Which is really quite unusual. You also have here the figure lacking some of the more important pieces. They are carved of ivory. And what's really nice to see is the coloring, and the staining's still intact. They're really in quite good condition for their age. One of the reasons that they're in such good condition is that they've been mounted onto these boards, which they were probably always mounted on. We have this wonderful backing, which has got this traditional Indian, almost sort of cut card work and pierced backing. And what's interesting about ivory is that you see it's taken on that yellow surface. That's oxidization, but that's also the natural oils from your hand. And these don't really have much yellowing because they're mounted on board. So people don't really touch the actually figures. And you don't have to keep them buried in a closet, just out of direct sunlight. They're really nicely carved. There are two of them, but these figures were never made to be a pair. However, I would suggest if they were to be sold at auction, to sell them as two. And I would expect to see them to have an estimate, for the two, of about $8,000 to $12,000.

Thank you very much.

You're welcome.

Appraisal Details

Rago Arts & Auction Center
Lambertville, NJ
Appraised value (2010)
$8,000 Auction$12,000 Auction
Washington, DC (August 21, 2010)

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