A pair of Qianlong figures of reclining ladies, estimated at $20,000-30,000 at Bonhams.

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It is timed to coincide with The Winter Show and Americana week auctions, a period in the New York calendar which traditionally also features sales of export porcelain. Among the auction highlights is this pair of 9in (23cm) wide Qianlong, c.1750, figures of reclining ladies.

The figures, which are dressed in gilt decorated iron red coats with their silk sashes and purses removed and placed on the ground, are each shown leaning against an album of bound books while looking at a book or painting album that is held in their raised left hands.

There appears to be only one other known pair of this rare form recorded, also published by Cohen & Cohen. The books are a literal representation of a Chinese metaphor: reading a book nourishes the growth of ideas in the mind like a child developing in the womb.

The unusual depiction of a suggestion of pregnancy in the figures is an unheard-of feature in Chinese art, especially for the export market.

The pair has an estimate of $20,000-30,000.