Previously sold in our New York Rooms, 10 December 1987, lot 280.
With the technical advances and virtuosity of porcelain production during the Qianlong period, potters from the official kilns were able to experiment with different ways and techniques to satisfy the emperor's penchant for the curious and archaic. Although the use of trompe-l'oeil was not pioneered by the potters during the Qianlong reign, the technique was nevertheless successfully employed. This vase is from a group decorated in imitation of cloisonne enamel, a technique where applied strips, or 'cloisons', are soldered on the body of a metal vessel creating small pools which are then filled with coloured glass paste and fired.
The Jingdezhen potter was most probably inspired from the Ming fahua method of laying a slip or coiled-porcelain thread design onto a plain ground, and then filling in the spaces with glaze washes. This technique is itself apparently derived from cloisonne enamel. Unlike the final effect of fahua in which the outlines of the pattern stand out in relief, the objective of cloisonne enamel was to polish down the infilled areas of enamel, leaving a smooth surface with the wire outline. It is therefore possible that, in the case with the present lot, the potter was influenced by both techniques, but most evidently imitating cloisonne enamel, even simulating the effect of gilt wires outlining the colour areas. Compare also the Jiaqing-marked double-gourd vase imitating cloisonne enamel illustrated in Sekai Toji Zenshu, vol. 12, fig. 61, and another pair from the Robert Chang Collection, exhibited at Christie's London, June 1993, Catalogue, no. 103.