24 September 2020
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A PAIR OF MINIATURE CLOISONNÉ ENAMEL FIGURES OF ELEPHANTS
CHINA, QING DYNASTY, 18TH-19TH CENTURY
Perhaps made to hold sticks of incense, each decorated in white enamel with gilt wires suggesting wrinkled skin, with yellow eyes and gilt tusks, each caparisoned in a harness, and a saddlecloth decorated with waves and clouds and surmounted by a vase
2 ¾ in. (7 cm.) long
Rare Art, Inc., New York, 12 January 1972.
The James and Marilynn Alsdorf Collection, Chicago.
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The elephant is the embodiment of strength, wisdom and intelligence, and the vase represents eternal harmony. The combination of the two conveys the rebus taiping youxiang, 'peaceful times' or 'when there is peace, there are signs'.