A PAIR OF GILT-DECORATED BLUE-GROUND FAMILLE-ROSE MINIATURE JARS AND COVERS SEAL MARKS AND PERIOD OF QIANLONG
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.