Lot 9
  • 9


80,000 - 120,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • porcelain
the ovoid body surmounted by a short slightly waisted neck, superbly painted around the exterior with five lavishly dressed boys situated in a blooming garden of pine trees and craggy rocks, the taller boy with his arm raised holding a red and gold helmet surrounded by four others eagerly reaching for it, their faces finely outlined and shaded, the reverse painted with a pomegranate tree laden with floral buds and three ripe fruits, all between two turquoise-ground bands of meandering lotus scrolls, bats and ruyi heads, the interior and base enamelled turquoise, the base centred with an iron-red six-character seal mark within a square cartouche reserved in white

Catalogue Note

This charming vase belongs to a group of famille-rose wares finely painted with figurative scenes against richly decorated coloured grounds. Wares of this type began to be produced in the late Qianlong reign to resemble paintings mounted between textile borders and remained popular into the Daoguang period.

Painted with a lively design of five boys playfully fighting for a helmet, the scene represents the wish for sons to attain ‘first place’ in the civil service examinations. It references the story of the five eminent sons of Dou Yujun, who achieved exceptional success in the civil service examinations. Dou, a scholar, educator and official, lived at Yanshan during the Five Dynasties period and was revered as the ideal parent for successfully raising five outstanding sons.

Vases of this type, with auspicious designs enamelled between coloured borders, were produced in a variety of forms and coloured grounds; see a globular vase with tall neck also decorated with boys between turquoise borders, sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 7th October 2010, lot 2162; and another sold at Christie’s New York, 4th May 1978, lot 279. Compare also a larger pair of Daoguang mark and period jars, painted with the ‘hundred boys’ design, against a pink-enamel ground, sold at Christie’s London, 15th May 2012, lot 338.