2821
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Details & Cataloguing

Splendours of the Qing Court

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Hong Kong

AN EXTREMELY RARE PAIR OF 'FAMILLE-ROSE' 'DRAGON BOAT' MOONFLASKS

SEAL MARKS AND PERIOD OF QIANLONG

THIS IS A PREMIUM LOT. CLIENTS WHO WISH TO BID ON PREMIUM LOTS ARE REQUESTED TO COMPLETE THE PREMIUM LOT PRE-REGISTRATION 3 WORKING DAYS PRIOR TO THE SALE.

each of well potted compressed globular form rising to a cylindrical neck flanked by a pair of archaistic scroll handles below a flared mouth, superbly painted in vivid and meticulous detail in 'famille-rose' enamels with two lobed panels depicting one hundred boys in different dragon boating scenes, one side with the red dragon boat leading the race, the other with the green boat ahead of the red, both scenes with boys cheering excitedly as they watch on, some performing a dragon dance, some carrying lanterns, banners and firecrackers, some riding hobby horses, and others playing drums and cymbals, the boys dressed in brightly coloured clothes, set amid elaborate pavilions and bridges, pine and paulownia trees, all reserved on a rich yellow ground decorated with leafy lotus scrolls, the neck with a bat suspending tasselled lanterns below pendant leaf lappets at the rim, the interior and base turquoise, with a central square on the base reserved in white for the iron-red six-character seal mark


26.4 CM., 10 3/8 IN.
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Provenance

In a Private English Family Collection since the 19th century.

Catalogue Note

THE EMPEROR'S 'DRAGON BOAT' MOONFLASKS
Hajni Elias

Famille-rose decorated moonflasks of the Qianlong period are extremely rare and the present pair appears to be the only recorded example of its kind. In their form these flasks are an adaptation of much earlier foreign pilgrim bottles which became the inspiration for ceramic replicas. Qing moonflasks, in their shape, were largely derived from early Ming prototypes; for example see a Yongle blue-and-white flask of this globular form painted with a peony scroll in the British Museum, London, illustrated in Jessica Harrison-Hall, Ming Ceramics, London, 2001, pl. 4:17; and another, from the Qing emperors' summer resort Bishu Shanzhuang at Chengde in Hebei province, published in Zhongguo taoci quanji, vol. 12, Shanghai, 2000, pl. 17.

For examples of Qianlong mark and period famille-rose enamelled moonflasks see one with three spouts decorated with figures in landscape published in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Porcelains with Cloisonne Enamel Decoration and Famille Rose Decoration, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 124; and another of similar size and rounded globular form but with a narrow foot, painted with a medallion of Buddhist emblems sold in these rooms, 23rd May 1978, lot 166. Compare also a flask of circular body with a pierced rectangular base and short cylindrical neck flanked by openwork archaistic dragon handles and painted with flowers and birds in the famille-rose palette sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 28th April 1996, lot 51; and another of the same form but decorated with the design of 'children at play' in round panels on turquoise-ground, published in Kangxi. Yongzheng. Qianlong. Qing Porcelain from the Palace Museum Collection, Hong Kong, 1989, pl. 35. (fig.1).

Blue-and-white Qianlong moonflasks of related form can be found painted with flower scrolls and the 'dragon and phoenix' design; see a flask from the Qing Court collection and still in Beijing illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Blue and White Porcelain with Underglazed Red (III), Shanghai, 2000, pl. 132; and another painted with a flower scroll included in Chinese Porcelain. The S.C. Ko Tianminlou Collection, Part 1, Hong Kong, 1987, pl. 65.

Dragon Boat (Longchuan) races are held during the Duanyang or Duanwu Festival which happens on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. The festival became a tradition to commemorate the death of Qu Yuan (circa 340 B.C. - 278 B.C.), a patriotic statesman and poet from the Southern Chu State of the Warring States period. Qu drowned himself near Dongting Hu in Hunan province as a protest against the decadent and corrupt court of the Chu King. The Dragon Boat race itself is a symbolic act of searching for Qu's body and to keep fish and evil spirits away from his him by beating drums and splashing the water with the paddles. Food is thrown into the water as offering and to distract the fish away from his body.  

 

 

       

 

 

Splendours of the Qing Court

|
Hong Kong