Vases from this group were produced in an array of forms and embellished with various famille-rose scenes in shaped panels; a much smaller hexagonal vase with archaistic dragon handles, adorned with a landscape and poem on either side, was sold in these rooms, 29th November 1978, lot 304; a pair was sold in our London rooms, 10th July 1979, lot 179; and a wall vase version, with Qianlong seal mark and period, was sold in these rooms, 7th April 2015, lot 3123. See also a larger baluster vase, decorated on each side with a large quatrefoil panel enclosing landscape scenes and also set with archaistic dragon handles, but gilded with bats amidst cloud scrolls and sprays of lotus and lingzhi fungus, with Qianlong mark and period, sold in these rooms, 9th November 1982, lot 300; and a lobed ovoid vase, but splashed with gold mottling to give a metallic effect, also sold in these rooms, 29th November 1976, lot 587.
In decoration and form this vase is full of auspicious imagery which reveals it was probably produced as a marriage gift. The double gourd (hulu) is symbolic of the union of yin and yang, the meaning of which is complemented by the gilt-painted butterflies that flit from flower to flower symbolising a long a happy marriage. The combination of the peony, chrysanthemum, lotus and camellia on the upper bulb represents the four seasons, thus evoking the passage of time while the wish for many successful sons is indicated by the scenes of boys at play. Furthermore, the landscapes provide the reminder to the young couple that a connection with nature is vital for their personal growth and well-being.
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