As porcelain was a medium that was relatively easy to control and decorated to high standards of imperial quality, it was frequently used to simulate a variety of other works of art such as hardstones, cloisonné enamels, wood, lacquer, and in this instance bronze. For a discussion on the virtuosity of the Chinese potters during the Qianlong period in simulating other materials in porcelain, see S. Jenyns, Later Chinese Porcelain, 1971, p. 67.
It is unusual to find porcelain in imitation of splashed-gilt bronzes of the Ming period. An almost identical Qianlong-marked censer moulded in this form was sold in London, 9 June 1992, lot 268. Compare two other imitation bronze examples both in an iron-red glaze: a baluster vase, sold in New York, 25 October 1975, lot 219; and bombé-shaped censer from the Edward T. Chow Collection, sold in Hong Kong, 19 May 1981, lot 527.