PROPERTY FROM THE CASTELLO DI VINCIGLIATA, FIESOLE, ITALY (LOTS 217 to 220) Magnificent Porcelain Pagodas These magnificent pagodas were in the Castello di Vincigliata, Fiesole, Italy, when the current owners purchased the castle and its contents in the 1950s. Their size is monumental and their design suggests that they were inspired by one of the most renowned buildings in China. The famous Porcelain Pagoda of Nanjing, the Bao'en Temple Pagoda, (Fig. 1), built on the orders of the Ming dynasty Yongle Emperor to honour his parents in the early 15th century, was a source of wonder to Chinese who saw it, but also a source of amazed admiration to European travellers from the 17th century onwards. The pagoda was often listed in the 19th century as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, until it was finally destroyed during the Taiping Rebellion in 1854. In China the Nanjing pagoda also remained a subject of fascination, as evidenced by items such as the 19th century painting of the pagoda, inscribed with its history and construction details, which was sold at Christie's South Kensington in May 2010. It is no coincidence that the current pair of porcelain models of pagodas, each standing more than eight and a half feet high, follow the essential design of the original Nanjing Porcelain Pagoda. They were almost certainly based upon it. They were constructed with nine upper storeys, each with the upward-curving tiled eaves typical of roofs in southern China. Their appearance accords well with both Chinese and European contemporary images of the Nanjing pagoda, which was famous for its porcelain-faced walls and door arches, which provide its other Chinese name Liuli Ta (Glazed Pagoda). It is noteworthy that Jean-Baptiste Du Halde's description of the Bao'en Temple pagoda, in his A Description of the Empire of China and Chinese-Tartary of 1741, describes the green roof tiles of the Nanjing pagoda. The model pagodas also have green roof tiles, although they are primarily decorated in underglaze blue with iron red enamel and gilt in Imari style, and with finely-painted famille rose enamels. The Bao'en Temple Pagoda no doubt inspired models of pagodas in a variety of materials, some of which are particularly worthy of mention. The Yuhua Ge (Pavilion of Rain and Flowers), which is located in the north-western part of the Forbidden City in Beijing, is one of the tallest buildings in the palace complex, and has a cast bronze roof, including the Tibetan chorten. The Pavilion of Rain and Flowers is now regarded as the most complete Tibetan Tantric Temple in China. Recent conservation in the pavilion has brought to light a variety of model pagodas dating to the Qianlong reign. The objects within the Pavilion of Rain and Flowers were arranged strictly according to ritual, and the pieces displayed there today are preserved as they were in the 19th year of the Qianlong reign (AD 1754). The pagodas preserved in the Pavilion since 1754 include examples in various media - including wood and porcelain - and in a variety of styles. Amongst them is a pagoda, made of zitan wood, which is especially close to the diagram of the Bao'en Temple Pagoda shown in figure 1, showing that by the mid-Qianlong reign models of pagodas were made based upon the famous Nanjing pagoda. Porcelains of the huge size of the current pagoda models were difficult and very costly to make, and were extremely rare. However, they were greatly prized by European royalty. The British Prince of Wales (later King George IV, 1820-1830) purchased similar pagodas in 1804 and 1817 for his extravagant and exotic Royal Pavilion at Brighton. These remained in the Royal Collection, and in 1847 were transferred from Brighton to Buckingham Palace, where they were recorded in 1855. In 1949 the Royal Pavilion at Brighton purchased two similar pagodas from the collection of Sir Kenneth Clark. When in the Music Room of the Royal Pavilion each of the original pagodas was placed on two additional large plinths - one of Spode porcelain and the other a blue scagliola double plinth - in order to raise the base of the pagodas and balance the proportions of the Music Room's forty-one foot ceiling (Fig. 2). They were also topped with tall gilt-metal finials. The four larger pagodas in the Royal collection are virtually identical to the pagodas in the London sale, including the blue landscapes painted around the bases framed by enamelled faux bamboo. According to information published by the Royal Collection, two of these large pagodas were brought from China in 1804 by Dr. J.J. Garrett. The 'two extra large, elegant China pagodas nine feet high' cost 210, while two less tall pagodas cost 100. Two more very tall pagodas, similar to those in the current sale, were purchased by the Prince of Wales in 1817 from Robert Fogg. In the Music Room of the Royal Pavilion, which was decorated by Frederick Crace, closely supervised by the Prince himself, the four large pagodas were placed against the window piers, while the slightly smaller pagodas were placed on either side of the chimneypiece. Interestingly, palace records note that Robert Fogg also supplied some additional metal fittings, including 'dolphins' and bells of the sort seen at the tips of the eaves and qilin, of the sort perched on the posts of the balustrades of the pagodas in the current sale. Fogg charged his royal patron 5s. 6d. for each bell and 4s. 6d. for each of the qilin. Since he supplied 192 bells, 192 'dolphins' and 216 'dogs' for each large pagoda, that represented a significant expenditure. In addition the four Spode pagoda bases cost 305 17s. 6d., the gilt bronze mounts for the bases and the gilt finials were supplied by B.L. Vulliamy at a cost of 1,406, and the blue scagliola double plinths supplied by Henry Westmacott cost 159 1s. 4d. Another similar pagoda has survived, which was purchased in about 1815 by John, 6th Duke of Bedford for display in one of the 'Chinese' rooms in Woburn Abbey. The Duke had acquired Chinese wallpaper, which had been brought to England as part of the cargo of the ship the East Indiaman the Royal George in 1803, and it is probable that he was encouraged by Jeffrey Wyatt (later Sir Jeffry Wyattville) to purchase the pagoda - or more likely a pair of pagodas - to provide an impressive focus for rooms decorated in fashionable 'Chinese' style. Jeffery Wyatt was an English architect and garden designer, who worked both for the King and for a number of English noble houses. He is best known for his remodelling of Windsor Castle. The Woburn pagoda is illustrated in situ in the Chinese Room at Woburn Abbey in a guide book of the 1970s. This pagoda, which was no longer complete, was sold at Christie's London in September 2004. A pair of similar pagodas is in the collection of Raby Castle in County Durham. Raby Castle was built by the Nevill family in the 14th century, completed by John 3rd Baron Nevill in 1378. The castle was forfeit to the crown in 1569, and in 1626 was purchased by Sir Henry Vane the Elder. Sir Christopher Vane was raised to the peerage in 1698 as 1st Baron Barnard. Henry the 3rd Baron was created Earl of Darlington in 1754. His son, the 2nd Earl instigated extensive renovations in 1768, which continued into the late 18th century. It seems probable that the pagodas entered the collection at Raby Castle under the 3rd Earl William Henry, who was created Duke of Cleveland in 1833. He had a Chinese style Drawing Room, and it is recorded that the Prince Regent (later King George IV) visited Raby Castle in 1806, so it is possible either that the pagodas were purchased in order to impress the Prince, or that they were a gift from the Prince to commemorate the visit. The pagodas at Raby Castle share a number of features with those in our current sale, but differ in that their roof tiles are painted blue and white, their balustrades are decorated in the imari palette, and their bases are decorated in famille rose enamels with rocks, flowering plants and birds. It is also interesting to note that the fish or makara and the bells on their eaves are in blue and white porcelain with gilt decoration rather than gilt-decorated fish and gilt-metal bells, as is the case with most other examples, including the pair in the current sale. The latter also include gilt-decorated porcelain seated lions on the balustrade corners. A further porcelain pagoda, identical to those in the current sale, is now in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. This pagoda was acquired by the museum in 1954. Like the pagodas in the current sale and those in the Royal Collection, the Victoria and Albert Museum pagoda also has the additional gilt fish and bells. An old handwritten paper label is attached to the wooden base of this pagoda, which, interestingly, provides considerable detail regarding the Porcelain pagoda of Nanjing. The label gives the circumstances of its building; its dates; dimensions and its cost - 800,000. This would seem to reinforce the view that these porcelain pagodas were modelled on the original Nanjing building. In his article on the Victoria and Albert Museum pagoda, Pearce mentions another identical pagoda in the Musée National de Céramique, Sèvres. Smaller models of pagodas in porcelain are also known. The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts has three porcelain pagodas, the largest of which is a little over four feet high. Another is a little over three feet high, while the smallest is about two and a half feet high. The Winterthur Museum in Delaware, in America, has two pairs, both bequests from Henry Francis du Pont. A pair of porcelain pagodas approximately three feet in height was given in 1958. Du Pont had purchased these from J.A. Lloyd Hyde in May 1941, for $850.00. A second pair approximately five feet high was given in 1959, which had been purchased by du Pont from J.A. Lloyd Hyde in January 1946, for $1200.00. Both pairs are decorated in underglaze blue. The larger pair does not have fish/makara eave ends, but does have gilt bells. The smaller pair has porcelain fish/makara at the end of the eaves, but the bells are gilt metal. One of the earliest European images of the Nanjing Porcelain Pagoda appeared in Jan Nieuhoff's 1669 An Embassy from the East India Company of the United Provinces to the Grand Tarter Cham Emperour of China (Fig. 3). An even more extensive image of the Nanjing pagoda was published in 1721 in Entwurf einer historischen Architektur (A Plan for a History of Architecture), by the Austrian architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach (1656-1723). The original manuscript version of this publication had been presented to Charles VI on the occasion of his accession in 1712. The fashion for Chinese pagodas amongst the European upper classes was further fuelled by Sir William Chambers' 1757 publication Designs for Chinese Buildings, Furniture, Dresses, Machines and Utensils. In discussing pagodas, Chambers noted: 'The most considerable of them all are the famous porcelain-tower at Nan-King ' and it was Chambers who was also responsible for the construction of the 'Chinese' pagoda in Kew gardens, which was completed in 1762. While the fashion for chinoiserie was rife in the mid-late 18th century, exponents tended to amalgamate and adapt various styles from Asia. These large porcelain models of pagodas, however, were more accurate representations of real Chinese buildings, notably the Nanjing pagoda. Not only are they magnificent examples of the ceramicists art, they are also wonderfully evocative of one of the most iconic buildings in China's long history. Quoted by N. Pearce in 'A Chinese Export Porcelain Pagoda in the Victoria and Albert Museum', Orientations, October 1987, Vol. 18, No. 11, p. 38. Juliet Bredon, Peking - A Historical and Intimate Description of its Chief Places of Interest, 1922; Geremie R. Barmé, The Forbidden City, London 2008, p. 78. Royal Treasures, A Golden Jubilee Celebration, London, 2002, inv. RCIN 1. Woburn Abbey, Guide Book, 1974, p. 15. Private communication from the curator of the collection, March 2013. Craig Clunas (ed.), Chinese Export Art and Design, London, 1987, pp. 74, 76-7, no. 59. N. Pearce, op. cit., p. 38. N. Pearce, op. cit., p. 39. See William R. Sargent, Treasures of Chinese Export Ceramics from the Peabody Essex Museum , Yale University Press , 2012, pp. 152-4. Details from du Pont Daybooks, in the Winterthur Archives. Sir William Chambers, Designs for Chinese Buildings, Furniture, Dresses, Machines and Utensils, London, 1757, p. 5..A MAGNIFICENT, EXTREMELY RARE PAIR OF MASSIVE FAMILLE ROSE MODELS OF PAGODAS
QIANLONG/JIAQING PERIOD (CIRCA 1750 - 1800)
A MAGNIFICENT, EXTREMELY RARE PAIR OF MASSIVE FAMILLE ROSE MODELS OF PAGODAS QIANLONG/JIAQING PERIOD (CIRCA 1750 - 1800) One pagoda comprises nine hexagonal tiers and eight detachable roofs, and the other eight tiers and eight roofs, all of which are supported on a sturdy hexagonal stand which is painted in underglaze blue with three different landscape scenes, each repeated once, and each scene is set within faux bamboo surrounds. The tiers, which graduate in size, and are primarily decorated in underglaze blue, iron-red and gilt, have three arched apertures forming doors alternating with similarly-shaped 'closed' doors. The latter are enamelled in a soft pink on the upper halves and a pale turquoiese on the lower, each ornately decorated in blue. The lowest tier is reserved with quatrefoil cartouches enclosing floral bouquets instead of the 'closed' doors. Each of the curving and protruding roof sections is decorated in green enamel and underglaze blue and is surmounted by a balustrade which is delicately moulded and pierced with pink-enamelled dragons. The uppermost roof section is of bell shape and is surmounted by an iron-red and gilt finial of double-gourd form which is applied with four descending dragons in high relief. The pagodas are further embellished at each corner of the roofs with gilt-decorated leaping carp suspending gilt-metal bells, and the balustrades with gilt-decorated seated Buddhist lions at the angles. The carp, bells and lions are all of graduating size to mirror the tapering sizes of the sections. Overall height of the larger 103½ in. (263 cm.), and the smaller 97½ in. (248 cm.)
From the Castello di Vincigliata, Fiesole, Italy.
Sale Room Notice
Please note that the detachable bells are gilt-decorated porcelain and not gilt-metal as mentioned in the catalgoue.