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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 November 2013: Lot 88 

Lot 88

Lot 88
Treasury6, no. 1067 (‘Hidden Daoist’)
HK$4,240,000

Ruby-red, white, and blue enamel on translucent white glass; with a flat lip and slightly recessed flat circular foot surrounded by a protruding convex circular footrim; painted in pink and white with a series of formalized flower heads and a single small yinyang symbol beneath a shoulder band of formalized leaf or petal lappets, each with a lingzhi design in it, beneath a band of double-unit leiwen (‘thunder pattern’); the foot inscribed in blue regular script with some black speckling, Qianlong nian zhi (‘Made during the Qianlong period’)
Imperial, palace workshops, Beijing, 1736–1760
Height: 5.01 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.72/1.19 cm
Stopper: amethyst; gilt-silver collar

Provenance:
Lempertz, Cologne
Robert Hall (1994)

Published:
JICSBS, Winter 1994, p. 1
Kleiner 1995, no. 26
Sin, Hui, and Kwong 1996, no. 79
Treasury 6, no. 1067

Exhibited:
British Museum, London, June–October 1995
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July–November 1997

The stylistic similarities in the way the flower-heads are formalized between this and the Kangxi bottle that is lot 105 in this auction, have been noted by Robert Kleiner, where he cites other examples of the design on various palace enamelled wares from the Kangxi, Yongzheng, and Qianlong reigns (Kleiner 1995, no. 26).

There are several indications that this unique palace enamel dates from the early part of the reign and probably from the first decade, quite apart from its close ties to an established earlier design concept. The art of enamelling on glass was far from perfected by the time the Qianlong emperor began his reign, and even relatively successful pieces were apparently few and far between. It seems the newly enthroned emperor immediately set out to redress the imbalance in the three enamelling arts at the court by attempting to bring the art of painted enamels on glass up to the same level as those on metal and porcelain, the latter having been brought under astonishing control and artistry under his father, the Yongzheng emperor, providing a benchmark for the other two. The use of a simple palette suggests a return to basics in order to master the art, and the misfiring of the enamels reveal the continuing lack of complete control of the late-Kangxi and Yongzheng years. The black enamel used for detail has broken up in places, and the blue reign mark has fired patchy and dull. The quality of the art is difficult to assess on so formal and straight-forward a design as this; although it is well painted, it is clear that technical problems remained unsolved.

Another indication of an early date is found in the form. A number of enamelled glass double gourds are recorded from this early phase of Qianlong production, suggesting that the Qianlong emperor liked the form from the start. There can be little doubt that this stemmed from his love of the fruit itself. Like his grandfather, he was passionate about the art of growing gourds into moulds to form vessels, and while his father apparently produced not a single moulded gourd in the palace workshops (despite inheriting an extensive gourd garden in the Western part of the Imperial City), the Qianlong emperor produced many, often maintaining the double-gourd form.

The reign mark here is of the earlier Qianlong type, shallow and partly eaten into the white glass during the firing, giving the impression of an enamel-filled, engraved mark.

 

This is not the Sotheby’s sale catalogue. This is a product of Hugh Moss for the purposes of this website. For the catalogue details please refer to Sotheby’s website or request a copy of a printed sale catalogue from Sotheby’s.

 

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