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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part IX  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 24 November 2014: Lot 64 

Lot 64

Lot 64
Treasury 6, no. 1398 (‘Bring on the Flute’)

Famille rose enamels on colourless glaze on porcelain; with a slightly convex lip and recessed flat foot surrounded by a protruding convex foot rim; moulded with a continuous erotic subject where, in the interior of a house, six couples, either entirely or partially naked, are linked in union in various inventive positions on beds, tables, a large bowed plantain leaf, and so forth, one lady apparently playing a flute as she sits astride her partner, the entire scene set between a neck band of continuous leiwen (‘thunder pattern’) and an outer foot band of formalized floral scroll; the foot inscribed in iron-red seal script, Qianlong nian zhi 乾隆年製 (‘Made in the Qianlong era’); the lip painted in gold enamel; the interior unglazed
Jingdezhen, 1830–1880
Height: 5.6 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.70/1.47 cm
Stopper: gold and iron-red enamel on glaze on porcelain

Sasson Collection, Brazil
Hugh Moss (HK) Ltd (1997)                     

Treasury 6, no. 1398

With a room full of naked couples all doing their best to ensure the pre-Maoist population explosion, it may seem strange to suggest that the most interesting aspect of this bottle is its apocryphal reign mark. At some time after the end of the Qianlong period, the reign mark began to be used commercially with an intention to deceive. We suspect that the Qianlong mark would have been added to fakes during the Daoguang era, possibly at about the same time as Yongzheng fakes were first being produced. The tendency to fake Qianlong wares would have increased as the century wore on, foreign collectors grew in numbers, and the fame of Qianlong arts was spread abroad.

There is a group of moulded porcelain bottles bearing Qianlong marks that cannot be genuine but are often of extraordinary quality (others are in the Denis Low Collection, Low 2002, no. 180, and Stevens 1976, no. 261). It is a great shame that this group of bottles was not honestly marked, even signed by their makers. Some of the subjects and styles are often evolved from the Jiaqing height of the art. They represent a minor renaissance both artistically and technically, marred only by original deceit.

The stopper here fits it well, but is an old one added recently to the bottle. The colour picks up that of the iron-red detail in the painting of the lattice windows and the door on one side, not to mention the tiny slippers on the bound feet of all the women, which brings us conveniently back to the subject, and to the charming detail of the woman accompanying herself on the flute, suggesting her versatility.

Another bottle from this mould but painted differently is in Vanessa Holden 2002, no. 263.


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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