Lot 3628
  • 3628


2,500,000 - 3,000,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • porcelain
each of quatrelobed section, the compressed globular body rising from a countersunk base to a waisted neck, flanked by a pair of lion mask handles suspending loose rings, the front and back face moulded and painted with rectangular panels variously enclosing riverside landscapes, reserved against a rich dark blue ground gilded with stylised lotus and floral sprays, the neck encircled by a further band of floral sprays, inscribed to the base with a six-character seal mark in gilt, the domed quatrelobed cover similarly decorated and surmounted by a finial, glazed turquoise on the interior

Catalogue Note

These exquisite miniature jars belong to a small group of vases of various forms that were all decorated with famille-rose panels on a gilt-enamelled blue ground. In their search for ever new designs and styles for the Qianlong Emperor, the craftsmen of the imperial kilns sometimes took the unusual step to reduce rather than to enlarge their object of creation, and to embellish these pieces with particularly ornate designs. Every element of these jars has been carefully selected, derived from European motifs, as seen in the scrolling acanthus leaves, as well as Chinese landscape paintings. The lobed form and mask-head handles accentuate their luxurious nature. No comparable piece appears to be recorded and these jars are admirable testimony to the potters’ unending imagination and attention to individual items, in spite of the vast industrial-style production of porcelains at the Qing imperial kilns.

Other vases belonging to this group of gilt-embellished blue ground vessels are much larger in size; see an ovoid vase with landscape panels, flanked with archaistic phoenix-head handles, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Porcelains with Cloisonné Enamel Decoration and Famille Rose Decoration, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 130, together with an octagonal vase with bird and flower panels and no handles, pl. 131, and two cylindrical vases with a continuous design of children at play and panels of the Three Abundances, pls 132 and 133 respectively. Further vases without handles include a rectangular vase with alternating panels of flowers and inscription, from the H.M. Knight collection, sold in these rooms, 28th November 1979, lot 254; and a pair of baluster vases also with panels of the Three Abundances, sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 1st/3rd May 1994, lot 678.

These jars also reveal the multifaceted predilections of the Qianlong Emperor. The use of handles in the form of mythical animals was first introduced in the Zhou period (c. 1046-221 BC) which experienced a renaissance under the Yongzheng and Qianlong Emperors due to their strong interest in archaism. The Qianlong Emperor was also an enthusiastic collector of curios and miniature artifacts which were contained either in specially crafted treasure boxes or kept in his private studio. While large vessels were striking for their size and embodiment of the splendour of the Qing dynasty, the beauty of miniature pieces lies in the extraordinary level of craftsmanship achieved by the artist who has refined his skills into miniature proportions as seen in this piece. Another example of an exquisite miniature vase with animal-head handles, decorated with a lotus scroll against a sgraffiato yellow-ground, with Qianlong mark and of the period, was sold twice in these rooms, 8th April 2009, lot 1601, and 9th April 2013, lot 15.