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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 November 2013: Lot 38 

Lot 38

Lot 38
Treasury6, no. 1136 (‘Back to the Future’)

Famille rose enamels on copper, with gold; with a flat lip and concave foot surrounded by a flat footrim; painted with a continuous garden scene including a cypress tree, ornamental rocks, and shrubbery, in which a woman takes care of thirteen boys, one young one in her arms, one holding a small hand-drum (with two balls on strings that strike each side when the drum is twisted rapidly back and forth), others with a lotus flower, a lotus leaf, a branch of gui flowers, a sheng (‘reed organ’), a halberd with a beribboned, hanging chime suspended from it, and one with a branch of coral, with two butterflies flying overhead and billowing clouds; the base with a band of formalized lingzhi above a band of continuous leiwen (‘thunder pattern’) around the outer footrim; the neck with a band of three highly formalized kui dragons above a shoulder band of lingzhi; the foot inscribed in blue seal script Jingzhi (‘Respectfully made’); the interior covered with white enamel; all exposed metal gilt
Imperial, Guangzhou, 1750–1795
Height: 5.9 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.83/1.4 cm
Stopper: gilt bronze, chased with a formalized floral design

Robert Hall (1987)

Hall 1987, no. 70
Kleiner 1994a, p. 18, fig. 2.2
Kleiner 1995, no. 19
Treasury 6, no. 1136

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

This and Sale 2, lot 107, represent a distinctive group of extremely impressive enamels that can be firmly attributable to Guangzhou by the style of painting, the writing and colour of the of the Qianlong reign marks that appear on some, and the strange, predominantly iron-red border designs that are the standard for the group – and unlike anything that appears on Beijing enamels. They often bear the blue enamel two-character mark in seal script Jingzhi (‘Respectfully made’), as found here, but Sale 2, lot 107 has a Qianlong reign mark in iron red. The style of painting is distinctive and usually consists of medium-scale figures, usually a Chinese subject of women and children in a garden setting, with white, formalized, curly clouds reserved against a stippled grey-blue sky. Even the much rarer European subjects from the group have these distinctive Chinese-style clouds (resembling formalized lingzhi), and there can be no doubt that they are all from one workshop and from the hand of a Chinese enameller, probably over a relatively short period of time. Their alternate Qianlong or Jingzhi marks establish that they were made for the court during the reign. ‘Respectfully made’ is one of the types of marks that appears on imperial wares presented to the emperor, whether made at Beijing, in the palace workshops, or at Guangzhou. There are also mid- to late-Qianlong Beijing equivalents of this design (see, for instance, Sotheby’s, London, 11 October 1974, lot 143).

The painting, even if of repeated compositions, is delightfully well done, with a mixture of Chinese linear drawing and Western chiaroscuro and details of clothing folds, suggesting an artist who inherited both traditions and integrated them well. Another indication of a date later in the reign is the use of the elaborate, iron-red border in combination with a famille rose design. This is reflected on imperial snuff-bottle designs from Jingdezhen that can be dated to the last decades of the eighteenth century.


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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