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A magnificent and highly important ruby-ground 'famille-rose' vase
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About the item

Of elegant meiping form, the body intricately enamelled with a repeated set of eight loosely distributed exotic flowers emitting scrolling branches of feathery foliage including a large naturalistic lotus flower with shaded pink and green petals paired below a stylised lotus with long curled petals of bright egg-yolk-yellow crowning an interior of small petals in dark blue, the collar with a broad band of eight lemon-yellow stylised ruyi-heads enclosing dangling flower-head pendants and outlined in lavender-blue, all below a waisted neck with stiff upright leaves in turquoise, the foot with a border of yellow lappets enclosing formal iron-red florets within turquoise borders, all reserved on a ground of ruby-red enamel finely engraved in sgraffiato technique with a dense scroll of feathery arabesques and between gilded borders at the footring, neck, and flared rim, the base with a square iron-red seal mark against a turquoise ground repeated on the interior\nWith its generous proportions, rich spectrum of enamels and impeccable craftsmanship this vase is among the finest and most impressive pieces of Qianlong porcelain. The harmonious combination of the classic meiping shape with this sophisticated flower arrangement, and the superb colour balance achieved with this multitude of shades make this piece a particularly successful and aesthetically pleasing Qianlong design. It is extremely rare to find a vase with this overall colour ground with etched scrollwork of such large size.\nThe vase appears to be one of a pair, the companion vase preserved in the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated in Kangxi, Yongzheng, Qianlong: Qing Porcelain from the Palace Museum Collection, Hong Kong, 1989, p.361, pl. 42, and in Zhongguo taoci daxi: Jingdezhen gu taoci, Taipei, 1994, pl. 301. No other piece of this form or design appears to be recorded.\nThe complicated and laborious technique here employed, where the design is reserved on a monochrome enamel ground which itself is structured by needle-point etching of endless scrolling fronds, was only developed in the Qianlong period. It was more often restricted to smaller, subsidiary design borders rather than being used for the main field of decoration, since evenness of the enamel colour must have been very difficult to achieve over such a large surface.\nThe large variety of stylized flowers depicted and the shading of some of the petals, particularly the lotus petals, reflect a contact with the Western stylistic concepts that had been introduced by the Jesuit painters working at the Palace.\nRelated flower decoration on a ruby-red ground appears on a smaller vase of different form in the Umezawa Kinenkan, Tokyo, illustrated in Ceramic Art of the World, vol.15, Tokyo, 1983, col.pl.230; and on a smaller pear-shaped bottle in the Capital Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Shoudu Bowuguan cang ci xuan, Beijing, 1991, pl.155. Compare also a Qianlong ruby-ground vase of different shape but with related famille-rose enamelling, but apparently lacking the engraved scrollwork, sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 20th May 1981, lot 873, and again 19th May 1982, lot 342.
HK
HK
HK

dimensions

37.5 cm., 14 3/4 in.

exhibition

Nihonbashi Takashimaya, Tokyo, 1992; Shij?Takashimaya, Kyoto, 1992; Namba Takashimaya, Osaka, 1992; Takashimaya, Yokohama, 1992; MOA Art Museum, Shizuoka, 1992, Kure Municipal Art Museum, Kure, 1992; Yamaguchi Prefectural Art Museum, 1992; and illustrated in the accompanying publication Zhongguo ming tao Riben xunhui zhan [Exhibition of famous pieces of Chinese ceramics touring Japan], Taipei, 1993, pl.213.

literature

Hugh Moss, By Imperial Command, Hong Kong, 1976, pl. 83. Anthony du Boulay, Christie's Pictorial History of Chinese Ceramics, Oxford, 1984, p.245, no.11. Chûgoku tôji 2000 nen no seika: Chûgoku meit?ten, Tokyo, 1992, p.130, no. 146 (also featured on the front cover). Sotheby's Hong Kong, Twenty Years: 1973-1992, Hong Kong, 1993, pl. 298. Sotheby's Thirty Years in Hong Kong: 1973-2003, Hong Kong, 2003, pl. 337.

provenance

Collection of Lord Loch of Drylaw (1827-1900) (by repute). Collection of Alfred Morrison (1821-1897) and by descent to Lord Margadale of Islay, at Fonthill House, Tisbury, Wiltshire (Fonthill Heirlooms). Christie’s London, 18th October 1971, lot 58. Sotheby’s London, 8/9th July 1974, lot 416. Collection of Roger Lam. Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 21st May 1980, lot 236. Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 17th May 1988, lot 114.

consignmentDesignation

Property of a Gentleman


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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