Aug 10, 2007
Aug 10, 2007

Figure of Asia and Africa from the Four Continents

Figure of Asia and Africa from the Four Continents

c. 1760

Part of a set. See all set records

manufactured by

Chelsea Porcelain Factory

(Britain, London, 1745–84)

Soft-paste porcelain

Overall: 23.5 x 17.6 x 18.7 cm (9 1/4 x 6 15/16 x 7 3/8 in.)

Bequest of Mary Warden Harkness 1917.601.2


Did you know?

Figural representations of the four continents date back to the 1500s, but such imagery became even more popular in the 1700s as European empires expanded.


Often collected by wealthy British merchants who were beneficiaries of colonial expansion, figural groups were frequently part of elaborate table decorations meant to signify wealth and global dominance. In this work, Africa, who wears an elephant headdress and holds a scorpion in one hand, wrestles with Asia, who is surrounded by perfumes and native fruits. These depictions of Africa and Asia reveal a purely imagined understanding of faraway places.

See also
Decorative Arts
Type of artwork: 

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