Meriem Collection Sale One / 690

The Meriem Collection. Lot 690

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Of flattened apple shape with flat lip and slightly concave foot, the translucent deep
turquoise-blue bottle finely painted in delicate famille rose enamels with an overall scene
of cranes on rocks, three of the graceful long-legged birds standing beneath the
spreading branch of a prunus tree with dark pink flowers and buds which continues on
the other main side where two further cranes stand overlooking a gnarled crab apple
tree with pinkish-white blossoms, the foot inscribed in pale iron-red seal script Qianlong
nian zhi (Made in the Qianlong Period), tourmaline stopper with gilt-silver collar
6 cm. high

This bottle represents the early Yangzhou style of enameling. It is possible that the turquoise-blue
glass bottle may have been sent down from the Palace Glassworks in Beijing, as stripped of the
enamels, the shape, color and quality of the glass bottle fits squarely in with a range of glass bottles
made in Beijing. For details of the various centers of enameling which produced wares for the Court
in the mid-Qianlong period, see H. Moss, “Mysteries of the Ancient Moon”, JICSBS, Spring 2006.

The style of the early Imperial orders from Yangzhou were obviously drawn from Guyue Xuan
wares produced at the Court, and a number of the earliest are on colored glass, reflecting this
influence (see, for instance, a Guyue Xuan enameled blue glass snuff bottle, made at the Palace
Workshops, and formerly from the J & J collection, sold in these rooms, 22 March 2007, lot 40). A
related example of a Yangzhou turquoise glass bottle enameled with flowering branches, from the
Ko Family Collection, was sold in our London rooms, 14 June 1971, lot 44, also with a red
Qianlong seal-script mark. Enameled glass bottles produced at Yangzhou are usually marked either
with a pale iron-red Qianlong reign mark in seal script, typical of distant production for the Court,
or with a similarly pale iron-red Guyue Xuan mark, also in seal script.

The crane is a symbol of longevity, and the inclusion of fives cranes may represent the Taoist
concept of the Five Phases, rooted in the cycles of yin and yang, and linking the five elements
(water, wood, fire, metal and earth) to various natural cycles and phenomena. The prunus
symbolizes fortitude in adversity and, in particular, the idealized scholar-official.

The Meriem Collection. Lot 690

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