The J & J bottle is typically Chinese in its style. The rocks, like the tree trunk, are painted with vigorous, calligraphic lines, and the scene is speckled with traditional Chinese dotting to provide texture as much as to suggest moss and rough bark on rocks and trees, respectively. There, the lines of the leaves are as much an exercise in brushwork as they are in depiction; here, they are a little more subdued, more detailed and more descriptive than expressive, suggesting, perhaps, greater European influence.
This impression is confirmed by other elements of the design. The roses, seen from the front on one side, from the back on the other, are typically European, the one from the front resembling a heraldic Elizabethan rose in its formal layout. It is unusual for a Chinese artist working in enamels to depict a flower from the back. Front, side, or three-quarter views are more common in this art. There are other signs of a European hand. The grassy ground is completely filled with detail, including texturing to represent short grass, with blades of taller grass around the base of the rock. A Chinese designer would have been more likely to have made it simpler and less detailed. The rock is also very European in its depiction, without any hint of calligraphic line. It is painted to provide a realistic two-dimensional, logically shaded, Western impression of a three-dimensional object.
Confirmation of a European hand may also be found in the lower decorative border, where a very strange configuration of the standard formalized lingzhi design appears, with the usual trefoil upper register, balanced, or rather unbalanced in Chinese terms, by a lower register of different shape, resembling more the standard head of a ruyi sceptre. This use of two different registers of formalized fungus is exceptional. It appears on one other example: Sale 6, lot 212, beneath the lip and above the shoulder band (also of lingzhi). For reasons given there, if that bottle was not painted by a European, it was certainly a close copy of a European design.
It seems reasonable to assume that this bottle was also designed (possibly even enamelled) by a European hand, while the J & J bottle is more likely to have been designed by a Chinese artist. There are other indications of Europeans actually enamelling wares at the palace. The extraordinary bottle in the imperial collection decorated with quails on both main sides (Li Jiufang 2002, no. 145) shows no hint of a Chinese hand involved, either in design or enamelling, and no. 152 in the same publication may also have been enamelled by a European.
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