Lot 3427
  • 3427


800,000 - 1,000,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • 12 cm, 4 3/4  in.
of oval section, the sides divided into eight lobes, delicately painted to the top of each lobe with a floral bloom picked out in various shades of yellow, blue, pink, green and white enamels, all encircling a stylised eight-petalled pink flowerhead with blue scrollwork, demi florets and pointed green leaves radiating from the furrows between the lobes, the rim encircled by a lime-green trefoil border, all reserved on a purplish-pink ground, the box similarly decorated with four leafy lotus sprays against a lemon-yellow ground, enclosing a four-character reign mark within a double square, the interior enamelled in sky blue and the rims mounted in gilt

Catalogue Note

Exquisitely enamelled boxes of this type embody the dialogue between the East and West in the last quarter of the 17th century and the resultant achievements of craftsmen working at the Enamel Workshops in the Forbidden City during the Qing period. Boxes of this type were first created under the Kangxi Emperor and exact reproductions, with the exception of the reign mark, were commissioned by the Qianlong Emperor. It is unusual that no aspect of the box has been even slightly re-interpreted to suit the Qianlong Emperor's taste and as such is a testament to the timeless beauty of these boxes. Two closely related lilac-ground boxes, one from the Kangxi period and another from the Qianlong reign, both from the Qing court collection and still in Beijing, are illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Metal-bodied Enamel Ware, Hong Kong, 2002, pls 183 and 209. See also a pair of lilac-ground boxes sold in our rooms, 8th April 2014, lot 3102; and a single lilac-ground box was sold at Christie's London, 8th June 1992, lot 195. The technique of enamelling on metal was originally introduced to the Chinese craftsmen in the Guangzhou area by French Jesuit missionaries in 1684 following the lifting of restrictions at ports. Being a port city, these artisans were the first to be exposed to wares from Europe and developed the skills in creating such wares. Enamoured by the range of vivid and pastel tones of the imported and tributary wares, the Kangxi Emperor recruited enamel artisans from Guangzhou and Jesuit missionaries to work in the Palace and advance the proficiency of the Enamel Workshop.

Compare a yellow-ground box of this shape with similar decoration, with a Kangxi mark and of the period, in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, illustrated in Enamel Ware in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, Taipei, 1999, pl. 83, together with a Kangxi five-lobed box with similar lotus blooms on a white ground, pl. 82. A bowl decorated with a similar design of lotus blooms in a similar palette to the present is also included ibid., pl. 79.