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AN IMPORTANT CLOISONNE ENAMEL ALMS BOWL
AN IMPORTANT CLOISONNE ENAMEL ALMS BOWL

Details
AN IMPORTANT CLOISONNE ENAMEL ALMS BOWL
MING DYNASTY, EARLY 15TH CENTURY

The compressed globular body finely decorated with a lotus meander frieze, the full blooms shown in profile, each of the numerous petals picked out in an array of different coloured enamels including red, blue, green, yellow and white, with the outermost petals on each bloom depicted as gently folded and picked out in two complementary tones, the arched stems frame each of the flower heads and issue smaller leaves and buds which divide the larger blooms, all reserved on a turquoise blue ground, the base encircled by an elaborate multi-coloured lotus-lappet band, the mouth with a classic leafy meander reserved on a red ground, the copper interior and base gilt
6 1 /2 in. (16.5 cm.) diam.

Lot Essay

Amid the small group of Palace Workshop cloisonne enamel wares from the Yongle and Xuande periods decorated with lotus meanders, the present lot stands out as among one of the most finely enamelled. Although this motif was extremely popular and the most common of decorative themes in the early 15th century, the attention to detail on this example, with full blooms depicted with gently curled petals picked out in two tones suggesting the front and back of each face, identifies this example as one of the most detailed of the group.
Compare with a cloisonne enamel vase from the J.M. Hanbury and Pierre Uldry collections, illustrated in Chinese Cloisonne: The Pierre Uldry Collection, London, 1989, pl. 9, which appears to be of slightly later date as the lotus flowers are more stylized as are the petals towards the centre of the bloom. The 'curled' petal motif can also be seen on the cover of a cloisonne enamel box from the collections of Sir Harry Garner and Pierre Uldry, illustrated in op. cit., pl. 12 and again on a censer from the collections of Mrs. M. Sheperd, F. Knight and Pierre Uldry illustrated as fig. 15, however these again appear rather stylised and do not give the appearance of depth or fullness as do the blooms on the present alms bowl.

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