robustly potted, the tall upright floral lobed wall divided into two horizontal registers by a raised gilt fillet in the centre, further divided into twelve rectangular sections, each panel decorated with a single vignette containing a foreign tribute bearer dressed in European attire carrying either vases filled with branches, bolts of cloth or other gifts, all reserved on a bright turquoise ground with pastel-coloured floral scrolls, below a ruyi-head band around the mouth and pink florets along the rim, and a further gilt fillet around the foot, the interior and base glazed turquoise, the underside inscribed in iron-red on a white ground with a six-character reign mark
This piece is extremely unusual and no similar example appears to have been published. The basin may have been inspired by enamelled bronze jardinières, which is reflected in its turquoise-ground enamelling, double-tiered form and thin gilt-painted ribs. For example, see the design scheme of a pair of gilt-bronze jardinières, composed of two tiers of ten registers decorated with lotus scrolls in cloisonné and champlevé enamel, sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 28th April 1996, lot 22. Compare also a pair of deep fluted gilt-copper jardinières with bands of champlevé enamel flower sprays, with a Qianlong reign mark and possibly of the period, sold at Christie's London, 10th March 1980, lot 206.
It is rare to find foreign figures painted on porcelain although they were more frequently depicted on metal. Developed during the early 18th century and continued through to the Jiaqing period, the depiction of foreigners reflected the emperors' extravagant taste for exotic and unusual pieces. According to Michel Beurdeley in Qing Porcelain. Famille Verte, Famille Rose, London, 1987, p. 124, Chinese ceramic artists found amusement in incorporating European figures into their designs, just as exaggerated Chinese figures were often woven into European tapestries . A Qianlong brushpot painted with a narrative scene of foreigners, from the Paul and Helen Bernat collection, was sold in these rooms, 15th November 1988, lot 36, and again, 9th October 2007, lot 1213; and another, decorated with two panels of European figures on a faux-wood ground, was also sold in these rooms, 8th October 2008, lot 2615. See examples of porcelain jardinières of double-tiered form and simulating wood, such as one with Yongzheng reign mark and of the period, sold in these rooms, 29th November 1979, lot 289; and another sold at Christie's New York, 20th September 2002, lot 340. Compare also a slightly later carved lacquer jardinière of similar lobed form and divided into two sections by a gilded horizontal rib, from the Mottahedeh Collection, sold in our London rooms, 19th October 2000, lot 462.
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