Lot 3007
  • 3007


10,000,000 - 12,000,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • cloisonne, huanghuali (Dalbergia odorifera )
  • overall 94.5 by 139 cm., 37 1/4  by 54 3/4  in.
superbly decorated in vivid enamels with an aged pine tree growing amongst rocks and flowering plants and silhouetted, all set against a sky brilliantly rendered in rich turquoise-blue enamel and highlighted with intricate gilded copper-wire swastika symbols, the gnarled tree crooked and bent pressing against the huanghuali frame on the right side, heightening the dramatic tension within the picture, save for the turquoise blue sky on the left, decorated with a poetic inscription in clerical script, followed by the characters reading gonglu yuzhi shiju, chen Yu Minzhong ('Imperial poetic verses by his Majesty respectfully recorded by his servant Yu Minzhong'), concluding with two seals chen and Mingzhong

Catalogue Note

Masterfully executed with an auspicious scene of a pine tree and orchids issuing from rockwork, the sumptuousness of this panel is captured through the gold outlines that flicker and frame the rich colours of the crush enamel. The skill of the craftsman is evident in his ability to capture contrasting textures, from the fine sharpness of the pine needles to the rough bark of the pine tree, and the jagged edges of the rocks to the delicate flowing leaves of the orchid. All set against an intricately rendered swastika ground, it is a fine example of the workmanship of the imperial workshops and the emperor’s personal taste which favoured visually striking, innovative and technically challenging designs.

The Qianlong period saw a great resurgence and expansion in the art of cloisonné enamel, notably in the expansion of vessels forms and new applications. Panels of this impressive size were previously unseen as the large flat surface required the refinement of materials and skill to be successfully executed. This was only achieved under the patronage of the Qianlong Emperor. Such developments in cloisonné enamelling allowed craftsmen to draw inspiration from a variety of sources and experiment with form, size and design. While the fan shape is known in cloisonné enamel from small boxes produced in the Ming dynasty, such as one sold in our New York rooms, 21st March 2015, lot 651, panels of this type are extremely rare. With its corner composition and black enamel inscription, it is likely to have been inspired by fan-shape paintings and album leaves.

The poetic verses can be translated:

'Approaching the terrace of flowers and surrounded by a pristine fragrance,
Touching the garden pine and sheltered by a sheer delight.'

The vassal, Yu Minzhong (1714-80), mentioned in the line following the verses, was an official from Jintan in Jiangsu province. He received his jinshi degree with the highest honours and thereafter became a first-class compiler of the Hanlin Academy, and eventually served in many official posts, first in the provinces and from 1750 onwards mainly in Beijing. There he was in the direct company of the Qianlong Emperor in the capital as well as on tours, and advised him on many important policy matters. From 1773 until his death he was the most powerful minister of the empire. One of his tasks consisted of editing the Emperor’s poems, which, having often been composed during brief intervals between audiences, he afterwards had to write down from memory and reputedly seldom made a mistake. He also directed the compilation of the Siku quanshu [Complete Library of the Four Treasures], the Imperial Manuscript Library. Yu also served as one of the key figures in the Jinchuan campaign of 1771-76, and his portrait is included in a handscroll that depicts seventeen of the fifty meritorious generals and officers commissioned by the Qianlong Emperor, sold in our New York rooms, 1st June 1992, lot 77.