• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2761

    Asian Art

    20 - 21 November 2007, Amsterdam

  • Lot 235

    A rare famille rose 'Archer' cistern and cover

    CIRCA 1740

    Price Realised  


    A rare famille rose 'Archer' cistern and cover
    Circa 1740
    After the design by the Dutch draftsman Cornelis Pronk, finely enamelled and gilt on four sides of the baluster body with an archer pulling his bow within a Baroque style cartouche including a shell and mask motif surrounded by butterflies and insects and connected below with a dense floral garland above four large green and yellow flower- heads, all between an iron-red, yellow and gilt leaf-pattern band around the stepped base and a green, pink and gilt lappet border within black horizontal lines encircling the neck and shoulder, the base of the front pierced with a aperture to accomodate the missing tap, the domed green-ground cover surmounted by a blue lotus-bud knop finial above a yellow and pink row of loop petals, knop restored
    51 cm. high

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Around 1735, the Dutch East-India Company planned to revive the trade in porcelain and commissioned the Dutch draftsman Cornelis Pronk (1691-1759) to produce designs to be transferred onto Chinese porcelain, which they hoped would be more successful than the Chinese designs and which would appeal to the European taste. However, due to the expense of transferring the design onto porcelain, the volume of Pronk's work is small, and his designs ceased in 1738 since they were not considered profitable. Two watercolours by Pronk of his designs 'The Doctor's Visit' (1735) and 'La Dame au Parasol' (1734) are in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. According to records, only these two orders were believed to have been placed: the first was carried to the Netherlands on the Hogersmilde at the end of 1738, followed by the second order the next year. There are several other designs attributed to Pronk on stylistic grounds, including 'The Arbour', 'The Handwashing', 'The Archer', 'The Violet Plume', 'The Flame Dancer' and 'The Phoenix'. The cistern is decorated with the design commonly referred to as 'The Archer'. This design is known on a small group of vessels including urns and basins in different sizes decorated in coloured enamels or in underglaze blue and gilt.
    Dr. C. Jörg reports that in total sixty sets of large vases and basins were shipped from China to the Netherlands in the period 1737-40, and quotes the Company report that "many and in fact most of the oval water basins for the vases cracked and ruptured in the firing". See C.J.A. Jörg, Porcelain and the Dutch China Trade, p. 190. Not only were they fragile, they also bore an "excessively high price" of "220 guilders on average" per set. This when a dinner service of 102 pieces cost 90 guilders in blue and white and 115 in enamels (op. cit. p. 171).

    A cistern with the same design is in the collection of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. See C.J.A. Jörg in collaboration with Jan van Campen, Chinese Ceramics in the Collection of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Amsterdam, 1997, p. 285, ill. 331. See also C.J.A. Jörg, Pronk Porcelain, 1980, no. 52; D.F. Lunsingh Scheurleer, Chine de Commande, 1974, no. 132; and D. Howard and J. Ayers, China for the West, p. 294-295.

    A similar cistern and cover was sold in these rooms, 13 May 1998, lot 200.

    Special Notice

    Christie’s charges a premium to the buyer on the Hammer Price of each lot sold at the following rates: 29.75% of the Hammer Price of each lot up to and including €5,000, plus 23.8% of the Hammer Price between €5,001 and €400,000, plus 14.28% of any amount in excess of €400,001. Buyer’s premium is calculated on the basis of each lot individually.

    Pre-Lot Text