the ovoid body painted in bright enamels with iron-red bats carrying beribboned auspicious objects, flying amidst a multi-coloured composite floral meander, all reserved on a turquoise ground, between ruyi and petal borders, the tall waisted neck supported on a collar decorated with shou medallions, similarly painted and flanked with iron-red monster mask handles, the rim and low foot encircled by various formal borders, the base inscribed in gilt with a six-character reign mark
Sotheby's Hong Kong, 14th November 1989, lot 309.
Sotheby's Hong Kong, 2nd May 2000, lot 644.
With the technical advances and virtuosity of porcelain production during the Qianlong period, potters from the official kilns were able to experiment with different techniques to satisfy the emperor's penchant for the curious and archaic. Although the idea of porcelain imitating other materials was not pioneered by the craftsmen of the Qianlong reign, the technique was nevertheless very popular and perfected.
This vase is from a group decorated to simulate cloisonné enamel, a technique where applied raised lines were used to create 'cloisons' on the body of a metal vessel which were then filled with coloured glass paste and fired. The painter of the present lot has successfully imitated the effect of gilt wires by outlining the famille-rose enamelled pattern in gilt, the linearity of which creates a pleasing contrast with the sculptural mask handles.
A turquoise ground vase imitating cloisonné in the Palace Museum collection, also with a gilt six-character Qianlong reign mark but in a more slender form, is illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Porcelain with Cloisonne Enamel Decoration and Famille Rose Decoration, Hong Kong, 1999, cat. no. 119. Compare also a smaller Qianlong vase of related form decorated with the bajixiang using the same enamelling technique and with small elephant-head handles, sold in these rooms, 24th November 1987, lot 182, and again at Christie's Hong Kong, 3rd December 2008, lot 2566; and another ovoid vase with scroll handles similarly enamelled with lotus flowers amidst curling leaves and ruyi heads, from the W.W. Winkworth collection and Robert Chang collections, sold in our London rooms, 12th December 1972, lot 175, and at Christie's Hong Kong, 2nd November 1999, lot 505, and again in these rooms, 26th October 2003, lot 121.
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