This extremely rare cloisonne enamel bottle is undoubtedly a product of the Qianlong Palace workshops. Apart from the fine color and quality of the enamels and the style, the form of the bottle, a miniature vase, links it to an interesting range of vase-form bottles rendered in a variety of materials and produced for the Court during the Qianlong period and earlier. The beautifully incised four-character reign mark is also typical of cloisonne enamel wares produced at the Palace workshops.
This bottle represents cloisonne enamel at its finest, with a simple, formalized design beautifully disposed on an elegant form, the simple coloring giving strength to the abstraction and the substantial wires well gilded against a perfectly even surface. The artist has chosen to use the traditional palette of enamels, the same colors available in the fifteenth century when it went through its first florescence at the Court, rather than include enamels introduced in the early eighteenth century, when ruby red was introduced from Europe by the Jesuits and initiating the so-called famille rose palette. One of the mysteries of enamels in China is that white enamel, mixed with other colors to provide an endless range of pastel colors, was as important to the new palette as the pink color after which it was named, and yet white enamel was a standard from the fifteenth century onwards. It was never mixed with the red to produce pink, however, other than by running the two together, and by using a band between of speckled white and red. For some reason, mixing the white enamels of those early wares was either not possible or had not occurred to the enamellers.