27 November 2007,
Price realised HKD 1,687,500
Estimate HKD 700,000 - HKD 900,000
AN EXQUISITE AND VERY RARE BEIJING ENAMEL CUP AND COVER
QIANLONG BLUE-ENAMELLED FOUR-CHARACTER MARK WITHIN DOUBLE-SQUARES AND OF THE PERIOD (1736-1795)
The slightly waisted deep tapering sides resting on a short circular spreading foot and rising to an everted rim, flanked by a pair of well-cast gilt-metal archaistic dragon handles bridging the rim and mid-section, superbly enamelled above the foot with two shaped cartouches depicting rural Italianate scenes, the first with a shepherd beside a vase of flowers watching over his flock of sheep, the reverse with a lady leading an ox and holding a basket of flowers in her other arm, all before buildings in tree-strewn landscapes, reserved on a rich yellow ground with dense scrolling foliage, the mid-section with a narrow band of flower scroll below further landscape cartouches decorated in puce enamel against a lime-green floral scroll ground, the cover with similar floral scroll bands on a yellow ground, puce cartouches on a lime-green ground and a band of multi-coloured 'ball-flowers' encircling the gilt-metal knop finial
11.7 cm. (4 5/8 in.) high
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The primary European-subject panels and the ruby landscape vignettes exhibit the total technical control and superb artistry of the Qianlong-period enamellers at their zenith. Palace enamellers used the artistic device of stippling to create the gradation of shade or colour by the application of a multitude of tiny dots. This allowed for wide variation in intensity of colour without constantly changing the saturation of the enamel.
Westerners garbed in European clothing and set in pastoral landscapes were a popular subject-matter for enamelware, reflecting the predilection at the Imperial court for Occidentalism, and the Qianlong emperor's love of novelty and the exotic. These romanticised vignettes also complement the European-derived techniques of enamelling and chiaroscuro. For a further discussion on the use of puce enamel decoration, refer to the footnote for lot 1670 in the present sale.
Compare the present cup with a smaller Beijing enamel cup with very similar handles and use of decorative techniques, sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 30 May 2006, lot 1569.
A Private Canadian Collection, sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 30 October 2002, lot 208
Sotheby's Thirty Years in Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2003, no. 424
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