The Qianlong Emperor was an avid collector of objects that were modelled after relics from antiquity, so pieces such as this vase would have satisfied his idiosyncratic taste for the old and new. The return to archaistic designs highlights the Qing emperors' desire to be aligned with the past and thus reaffirm their legitimacy to the Chinese throne. The form is based on the archaic bronze hu ritual vessel, a form that was revived in ceramic wares during the Song period. While the overall symmetrical composition and floral blooms are rendered in the typical Ming style, but the depiction of leaves and ‘C’ scrolls on the present vase is more closely related to European Baroque foliate scrolls that gained popularity in the Qing court.
Compare Qianlong vases of this type, but with varying handles, such as a larger pair said to have been made as part of a set of tableware used by the Qianlong Emperor for formal banquets, illustrated in Chuimei Ho and Bennet Bronson, Splendors of China’s Forbidden City. The Glorious Reign of Emperor Qianlong, London, 2004, pl. 244. Compare also a Qianlong period cloisonné enamel vase decorated with lotus flowers, from the Qing court collection and still in Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Metal-bodied Enamel Ware, Hong Kong, 2002, pl. 96.
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