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    Sale 7581

    Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Including Export Art

    13 May 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 58



    Price Realised  


    In the form of a minature alms bowl, finely painted around the exterior with dragonfly, crickets and various other insects amongst delicately detailed flowers, including hibiscus, rose, morning glory, poppy, lilies and magnolia, all reserved on a lemon-yellow ground and between bands of lappets and stiff leaves, the interior turquoise enamelled and the base in white
    2¼ in. (5.8 cm.) wide

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    This exquisite little water pot bears some of the finest painting to come from the imperial ateliers during the Qianlong reign. Despite its small size of the vessel, the artist has managed to portray the flowers and insects in remarkable detail, and in a very natural manner. The dragonfly and the cricket are particularly well painted. The flower sprays are rendered with equal naturalism, and the variety of flowers is greater than that seen on vessels of much larger size. The borders of overlapping leaves at the foot and ruyi heads around the mouth rim are painted with equal care and with very fine details.

    The decoration on this water pot represents a fascination with the natural world that can be seen on a small number of other fine enamelled wares from the imperial ateliers. Butterflies and insects are, for example, painted on the body of a lobed, lidded jar with yellow ground in the National Palace Museum, Taipei (illustrated ibid., pp. 246-7, no. 130). While there are no flowers in the same decorative area as the butterflies and insects on this jar, there is a band of flowers around the upper shoulders and the neck. Butterflies and flowers are painted in the panels of a Qianlong enamel on metal ewer in the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei (illustrated in Enamel Ware in the Ming and Ch'ing Dynasties, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1999, pp. 224-5, no. 114). The flower and butterfly panels alternate with panels containing figures in landscape.

    Sprays of flowers, butterflies and insects are painted on the lid of a white-ground Qianlong enamel on metal covered bowl in the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei (illustrated in ibid., pp. 248-9, no. 131). Flowers and butterflies are painted in several of the roundels on the lid of a Qianlong enamelled box in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing (illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum 43 Metal-bodied Enamel Ware, Commercial Press, Hong Kong, 2002, pp. 220-1, no. 210). Such was the appreciation of this type of design that flower sprays and butterflies cover a cloisonné vase in the Palace Museum, Beijing (illustrated ibid. p. 100, no. 97).

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium


    The Général Omer Blot Collection

    Pre-Lot Text

    Chinese Art from a French General's Collection

    Rosemary Scott
    International Academic Director, Asian Art Departments

    In 1860, while still a Major and Company Commander of the 87th Infantry Regiment, Génél Omer Blot (1824-94) served with the French troops in Beijing. It was then that he acquired the group of fine imperial enamel and jade objects offered in the current sale. The General purchased them from small shops in Beijing, and on his return to France told his family that such pieces were readily available in Beijing during that turbulent period in China's history.

    The General bought wisely and his collection includes some exceptionally fine 18th century white jades. In addition to a handsome white jade marriage bowl (lot 66) with mask handles and low-relief archaistic decoration on the exterior, there is an extremely rare white jade guang (lot 65). The form of this lidded receptacle is based upon an ancient bronze ritual vessel, and one of the reasons for its rarity in jade is undoubtedly the need to find a large piece of jade without blemishes from which it could be carved.

    A stunning pair of fine white jade boxes completes the jade group (lot 63). Unusually, these have on their lids low-relief carving of elephants with vases on their backs. Elephants are associated with strength, wisdom and long-life in China and are also significant animals within the Buddhist religion since an elephant played a part in the birth of the Buddha. A prominent member of the Buddhist pantheon, Samantabhadra (Puxian), is also frequently depicted seated on an elephant.

    Two enamelled items are included in the sale. One is a very rare gilt and silver decorated Qianlong (1736-95) porcelain vase with pale celadon glaze (lot 61). The pale celadon glaze reflects the Chinese court's continuing fascination with this soft green colour, which had been transferred from early stonewares to the fine porcelains of the Ming and Qing dynasties. In contrast, the disposition of the gold and silver elements applied to the surface of the glaze reflects the influence of European designs of the type brought to imperial attention by the Jesuit missionary artists working at the Chinese court. The exquisite little Qianlong water pot (lot 58) with its delicate design of flowers and insects is made of enamelled copper, and would have been made in the palace workshops originally set up by the Kangxi emperor (1662-1722) to develop the techniques he had admired on European enamels on metal. The decoration, however, reflects the Chinese court's love of fine flower painting, which was often combined with realistically rendered insects.