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A VERY RARE PAIR OF FAMILLE ROSE 'BOYS' JARS AND COVERS
A VERY RARE PAIR OF FAMILLE ROSE 'BOYS' JARS AND COVERS
A VERY RARE PAIR OF FAMILLE ROSE 'BOYS' JARS AND COVERS
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A VERY RARE PAIR OF FAMILLE ROSE 'BOYS' JARS AND COVERS
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THE PROPERTY OF A NEW ENGLAND COLLECTOR
A VERY RARE PAIR OF FAMILLE ROSE 'BOYS' JARS AND COVERS

QIANLONG SIX-CHARACTER SEAL MARKS IN UNDERGLAZE BLUE AND OF THE PERIOD (1736-1795)

Details
A VERY RARE PAIR OF FAMILLE ROSE 'BOYS' JARS AND COVERS QIANLONG SIX-CHARACTER SEAL MARKS IN UNDERGLAZE BLUE AND OF THE PERIOD (1736-1795) Each jar is finely decorated around the sides with a scene of boys at play: one boy riding a hobby horse, another seated on the shoulders of an older boy, others playing instruments, carrying banners or plantain leaves, all shown in a procession on a garden terrace below multi-colored clouds and between a band of key fret encircling the foot and a band of iron-red bats in flight amidst blue clouds on the neck. The domed cover is similarly decorated with a corner of the terrace below the knob handle decorated in iron red. 11 ¼ in. (28.5 cm.) high
Provenance
John Wanamaker (1838-1922) Collection.
Mary Brown Wanamaker Warburton (1869-1954) Collection.
C. Egerton Warburton (1902-1973), and thence by descent.

Post Lot Text
This exceptional pair of famille rose jars and covers was formerly in the collection of John Wanamaker (1838-1922) and his wife, Mary Brown Wanamaker (1839-1920). John Wanamaker was an American merchant, as well as a religious, civic and political figure, best known as an entrepreneur and founder of John Wanamaker & Co., considered the first and grandest department store in Philadelphia, a business that was expanded to New York, London and Paris. John Wanamaker was known not only as an innovator and merchandising genius, but also as a philanthropist and avid collector of art and antiques, many acquired on trips abroad. Unfortunately, most of the collection was lost when their sixty-room mansion, Lindenhurst, in Pennsylvania, burned down in 1907. After the fire, the Wanamakers built a new Lindenhurst, and it is possible that the present pair of jars, as well as a jadeite figure of Guanyin and a pair of jadeite parrots, were among the artworks purchased to furnish it. The jadeite Guanyin and parrots were sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 17-18 January 1989, lots 1001 and 1047. Family history records that the jars, figure of Guanyin and the parrots were all displayed together, the Guanyin in the center, flanked by the parrots, and then the jars at the ends. This arrangement became a tradition in the family as they were passed down through the years to other members of the family, the first of whom was their daughter, Mary Brown Wanamaker, known as "Minnie" (1869-1954), who married Major Barclay Harding Warburton (1866-1954) in 1895, and then to Minnie's son C. Egerton Warburton (1902-1973).

Mary Brown Wanamaker's husband Major Warburton (1866-1954), who became the publisher of the Philadelphia Evening Telegraph upon his father's death, was a member of Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders, the chargé d'affairs to President Wilson in London, 1914-1917, and an aide-de-camp to General Pershing in Paris in 1917. Through their trips to Europe, including Biarritz in southern France, in the early years of the twentieth century, the Warburtons became acquainted with members of the Romanov family, especially Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich, brother-in-law and second cousin to Tsar Nicholas. The rich family history is recorded in family photos dating from 1909 to 1914, which feature Warburton and Wanamaker family members at various locations, both in Europe and at home in the United States.

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Lot Essay


The subject of boys at play, which represents the wish for fertility and many sons, first gained popularity during the Song dynasty, as seen in the work of the court painter Su Hanchen (1094-1172), and woodblock prints of these paintings may have inspired the later renditions of this theme. During the Ming and Qing periods, this motif decorated not only paintings but ceramics and works of art in various materials. By the later Ming period, the standard number of boys represented became sixteen, as seen on the present jars. The same number can be found on a related Qianlong-marked, lantern-shaped jar in the Shenyang Imperial Palace Museum, illustrated in The Prime Cultural Relics Collected by the Shenyang Imperial Palace Museum - The Chinaware Volume The First Part, Shenyang, 2008, pp. 164-165, no. 5. The Shenyang jar is decorated with a scene of sixteen boys with instruments and firecrackers, with similar enameling of the central scene to the present jars, enclosed by underglaze-blue and iron red-enameled floral borders.

Two Qianlong-marked famille rose jars of globular shape, decorated with a similar scene of sixteen boys to that seen on the present pair, have also been published: one in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum - 39 - Porcelains with Cloisonné Enamel Decoration and Famille Rose Decoration, Hong Kong, 1999, p. 106, pl. 92; the other sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 31 May 2017, lot 3030. (Fig. 1)

The combination of the famille rose central scene enclosed by underglaze-blue and enameled borders on the present pair is quite unusual, and can also be found on the aforementioned jar in the Shenyang Imperial Palace Museum. The decoration of bats in flight on the upper border of the present jars, however, imparts additional auspicious meaning to the decorative scheme, and conveys the wish for good fortune.

The shape of the present jars is similar to that of a smaller (14.9 cm. high) Qianlong-marked jar and cover similarly decorated with a scene of numerous boys at play, also in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing, which is illustrated ibid., pl. 146, no. 128. On this jar some of the boys play instruments, but the others are involved in different, playful activities, and the scene is set between ruby-ground, ruyi-head borders. Like the present jars, a band of key fret encircles the foot, as well as the neck, which is shorter than the neck of the present jars.

Two other covered jars with different decoration, but of this exact shape and comparable height, that have a neck similar in height to those of the present jars, have also been published. One, dated Yongzheng but with an apocryphal Xuande mark, is decorated in copper-red and underglaze blue with a main band of phoenixes amidst peony scroll set between borders of bats and clouds, and a band of key fret encircling the foot, is illustrated in Selected Porcelain of the Flourishing Qing Dynasty at the Palace Museum, Beijing, 1994, p. 164, pl. 8. The other, of Qianlong date, which is carved around the sides with dragons amidst clouds and has bats amidst clouds on the cover, all under a celadon glaze, is illustrated in Kangxi. Yongzheng. Qianlong: Qing Porcelain from the Palace Museum Collection, Beijing, 1989, pl. 142.

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