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A MAGNIFICENT, EXTREMELY RARE AND FINELY ENAMELLED IMPERIAL YELLOW-GROUND FAMILLE ROSE FLORAL VASE, YUHUCHUNPING
PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE ENGLISH COLLECTIONChristie’s is honoured to offer this superb Qianlong-period famille rose vase which was acquired in China by the vendor’s great grandfather, James Adams Ballard (1855-1908), who lived in Shanghai in the late 19th century. Born in Sandhurst, Kent, Ballard moved to Shanghai working at Russell & Company, Qichang Yanghang, which was most prominent American trading house in Qing Dynasty China. After the trading company’s closure in 1891, Ballard entered the insurance business, eventually entering into partnership with Alfred Carroll Hunter, forming the firm Messrs Ballard and Hunter. During Ballard’s time in Shanghai, he joined the directorate of the Shanghai Mercury and Evening Post, Da Mei Wanbao, and he was one of the founders of the Shanghai Free Christian Church, Xin En Tang, remaining a prominent member of the community until his death in 1908 at the age of fifty-three.The vase was inherited by Ballard’s second son, Alfred Hunter Ballard D.S.C., R.N.R. (1896-1950), who was born in Shanghai and named after his father’s good friend and business partner. The younger Ballard would eventually become a decorated soldier in the British Armed Forces. He fought in the First and Second World Wars, and eventually becoming a Temporary Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve, earning the Distinguished Service Cross and bar for gallantry, skill, determination and devotion to duty in two events in the Second World War.
A MAGNIFICENT, EXTREMELY RARE AND FINELY ENAMELLED IMPERIAL YELLOW-GROUND FAMILLE ROSE FLORAL VASE, YUHUCHUNPING

QIANLONG FOUR-CHARACTER SEAL MARK IN IRON-RED AND OF THE PERIOD (1736-1795)

Details
A MAGNIFICENT, EXTREMELY RARE AND FINELY ENAMELLED IMPERIAL YELLOW-GROUND FAMILLE ROSE FLORAL VASE, YUHUCHUNPING
QIANLONG FOUR-CHARACTER SEAL MARK IN IRON-RED AND OF THE PERIOD (1736-1795)
The yuhuchun vase is skilfully potted with a bulbous body rising to a waisted neck and a flared mouth, supported on a short foot. The exterior of the body is exquisitely decorated with clusters of colourful floral sprays with stylised scrolling leaves, including lotus, peach blossom, rose, morning glory, pomegranate, lily, honeysuckle, narcissus, iris, anemone, aster and passiflora. The floral arrangements are reserved on a bright lemon-yellow ground detailed with intricate arabesques in sgraffiato, set between a striking blue-ground floral band above and a border of lotus petals encircling the foot. The neck is similarly enamelled with a yellow-ground floral design, below a red foliate border and a gilt band around the mouth rim.
12 in. (30.4 cm.) high
Provenance
The collection of Alfred Hunter Ballard D.S.C., R.N.R. (1896-1950), thence by descent within the family.
The collection of James Adams Ballard (1855-1908), acquired in China in the late 19th century.

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Lot Essay

The exceptional quality of the painting seen on this magnificent vase showcases the advanced technical innovations in porcelain production achieved by the imperial kilns at Jingdezhen during the Qianlong reign (1736-1795), under the supervision of the famous ceramicist Tang Ying (1682-1756). The bright lemon-yellow ground of this vase provides a great richness and clarity that highlights the other enamel colours, including shades of pink, purple, orange and green, to their best advantage. It appears that yellow-ground vessels found particular favour at the Qing court of the 18th century, which continued through to the 19th century. Compare the present vase to other imperial yellow-ground vessels produced at the time, such as a yellow-ground mallet-shaped yangcai vase painted with a ‘double-lotus’ design in the National Palace Museum in Taipei, included in the exhibition Stunning Decorative Porcelains from the Chien-lung Reign, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 2008, no. 28; and a Qianlong mark and period Beijing enamel jarlet, also in the National Palace Museum in Taipei, illustrated in Enamel Ware in the Ming and Ching Dynasties, Taipei, 1999, pl. 109. Furthermore, see a similarly finely enamelled double-gourd vase from the collections of Lord Loch of Drylaw, Alfred Morrison, John Morrison, Lord Margadale of Islay and J.T. Tai was sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 7 October 2010, lot 2126.
According to the porcelain inventory of the Qing imperial court archives dated to the 8th day of the 2nd month of the 16th year of the Qianlong reign, corresponding to 1751, a pair of yangcai yuhuchun vases decorated with the jin shang tian hua design were produced and delivered to the imperial court. The auspicious idiom jin shang tian hua, ????, which may be literally translated as ‘adding flowers to the brocade’, refers to the act of further perfecting something which is already beautiful. The sgraffiato design used on porcelain vessels is called the jin ground in Chinese, ??, hence the design of flowers set against a sgraffiato ground are aptly named as jin shang tian hua. The current yuhuhun vase, with its jin shang tian hua design, fits the description of the pair of vases documented in the palace record. One yellow-ground yuhuchun vase previously in a private American collection has an identical shape and design to the present lot, and was sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 8 October 2014, lot 3639. It is possible that the current vase and the one sold at Sotheby’s are the pair of recorded yangcai jin shang tian hua vases, as no other extant examples appear to have been published.

Porcelain inventory of the Qing imperial court archives, dated to the 8th day of the 2nd month of the 16th year of the Qianlong reign, corresponding to 1751, published in Qing gong ciqi dangan quanji The complete collection of Qing dynasty imperial palace records for porcelain, vol. 3, Beijing, 2008, p. 388.

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