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Lot 25: A LARGE ORMOLU-MOUNTED CHINESE PORCELAIN FAMILLE-ROSE BALUSTER VASETHE PORCELAIN QING DYNASTY, QIANLONG PERIOD (1735-1796), THE MOUNTS MID 18TH CENTURY
Treasures, Princely Taste
July 3, 2013
London, United Kingdom
Description: the tapering cylindrical body rising from a short spreading foot to an angled shoulder and tall waisted neck set with a pair of dragon handles, brightly enamelled around the body with a broad landscape band enclosing scholars engaged in scholarly pursuits and their attendent young boys, all reserved on a celadon ground with scattered floral sprays and butterflies at the shoulder and neck, the whole with rocaille and flower cast lapetted rim and base mounts, the neck with a pierced rocaille gilt-bronze collar on scrolled feet 80.5cm., 31 5/8 in.
Notes: The gilt-bronze mounts on this vase with their rocaille motifs, scrolls, lappets and flowers are typical of the mounted porcelain pieces that were sold by the Parisian marchands-merciers especially Lazare-Duvaux in the 18th century. However, many different bronziers were working for them at the time including Thomas Germain (d. 1748,) Jacques Caffiéri (d. 1755) and of course Jean-Claude Duplessis. Lazare Duvaux is known to have employed Duplessis to mount Chinese export porcelain. Similar flowerhead mounts cast in the middle of a lappeted frieze can be seen on a pair of gilt-bronze-mounted crackle-glazed porcelain pot-pourri vases, the mounts Louis XV, sold in these Rooms, 16th December 1998, lot 156. It is also worthwhile comparing another pair of gilt-bronze mounted Chinese porcelain vases and covers which have a similar lapetted frieze centred by sprays of flowers in a similar fashion to those on this vase, sold Christie’s, London 9th June 1994 lot 34. It is interesting to note that the base on this vase is cast in several sections which would suggest that the base was mounted by a bronzier who was used to casting mounts for pieces on a much smaller scale to the offered vase. Impressive large vases of this type were produced in the Imperial kilns at Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province, under the direction of Tang Ying (1682-1756), China’s most famous superintendent responsible for oversight of the kilns at Jingdezhen. For details of porcelain manufacture under Tang see Peter Y.K. Lam, ‘Tang Ying (1682-1756). The Imperial Factory Superintendent at Jingdezhen’, Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society, vol. 63, 1998-9, pp. 65-82. The decoration on this vase depicts scholar-officials immersing themselves in nature, and pursuing leisurely activities such as playing qi (Chinese chess), writing calligraphy, drinking tea and chatting about poetry in a tranquil garden setting. Scholars were much revered in China, making this subject matter one of the most popular decorative themes in the Qing artists’ repertoire, with its origin attributable to the depiction of the Seven Worthies of the Bamboo Grove (Zhulin qixian) – a group of bohemian intellectuals who escaped from worldly affairs to find freedom in nature – found on mural paintings as early as the third century. The painting seen on this vase is finely executed with close attention paid to details and to the placing of the composition on such a large surface. The vase was meant to be turned so that the scene unfolds like a scroll painting to reveal the different activities and scenery. While no other vase of this shape and decoration appears to be recorded, it belongs to a group of impressively large vases of related form with figural decoration painted in the famille-rose palette, such as the example illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Porcelains with Cloisonne Enamel Decoration and Famille Rose Decoration, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 168; and another celadon-ground famille-rose vase of similar shape and dimensions, also with stylized dragon handles but painted with the ‘Hundred Deer ‘ motif offered in our Hong Kong rooms, 7th May 2002, lot 526. See also a slightly larger celadon vase of closely related shape and handles, sold in our London rooms, 19th June 2002, lot 63, bearing a floral design in panels on the main body.
Provenance: Private French Collection