The luminous and luxurious nature of cloisonné enamel was particularly suited to the personal taste of the Qianlong Emperor, who commissioned an increasing number of cloisonné furnishings for the Palace, as well as objects for display and for the scholar’s desk. As a result, in order to meet the Emperor’s demands, on the sixth year of his reign, corresponding to 1741, the Enamel Workshop was significantly expanded and allocated a further six locations. Wares of such fine workmanship as the present were either created in one of the Enamel Workshops within the Zaobanchu (Imperial Palace Workshop), located within the Forbidden City in Beijing, or were a tributary item made for the emperor in one of the important workshops located in Guangzhou. Most craftsmen working in this medium in the Palace Workshop were recruited from Guangzhou where there was an established tradition of cloisonné enamel production.
The current vase is extremely rare, and no other closely related example is known in any private or museum collection. However, for the more commonly found gu-form vases, which have pronounced flaring rims and flanges, see three examples from the Qing court collection, preserved in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Compendium of Collections in the Palace Museum. Enamels, vol. 2: Cloisonne in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Beijing, 2011, pls 130-132.
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