AN IMPORTANT AND RARE CLOISONNE ENAMEL 'DRAGON' VASE QING DYNASTY, QIANLONG PERIOD
Removed from the Yuanmingyuan, Beijing, 1860.
Collection of Lord Loch of Drylaw (1827-1900).
Collection of Alfred Morrison (1821-1897).
Thence by descent to the collection of the Rt. Hon. Lord Margadale of Islay, T.D., at Fonthill House, Tisbury, Wiltshire, no. 258 (Fonthill Heirlooms).
Christie's London, 18th October 1971, lot 116.
The present magnificent cloisonné enamel vase belonged to the Fonthill Heirlooms collection which was formed by Alfred Morrison during the 19th century. The collection included a large number of imperial wares and Chinese works of art pieces that were purchased from Lord Loch of Drylaw (Henry Loch) who brought them to Britain after the sacking of the Qing imperial palace garden, the Yuanmingyuan, in 1860.
This vase is likely to be inspired by a Ming cloisonné enamel vase of the same square form but decorated with the phoenix design, from the Qing Court collection and now in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, illustrated in Masterpieces of Chinese Enamel ware in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1971, pl. 14.
Vessels decorated with dragons and phoenix were often made in pairs and it is likely that this vase had a companion vase with the phoenix design, after the Ming example. Vessels decorated with dragon and phoenix were considered most auspicious and the two represent good fortune and blessing for the emperor and empress. The clouds surrounding the motif also symbolize the granting of all wishes.