A rare Imperial Beijing painted enamel foliate snuff dish  Palace Workshops, Beijing, blue enamelled four-character Qianlong mark and period
Lot 129
A rare Beijing enamel lobed oval snuff dish Palace Workshops, Beijing, blue enamel Qianlong four-character mark and of the period
£100,000 - 150,000
US$ 170,000 - 260,000
Auction Details
A rare Imperial Beijing painted enamel foliate snuff dish  Palace Workshops, Beijing, blue enamelled four-character Qianlong mark and period
Lot Details
The Property of a Gentleman
A rare Beijing enamel lobed oval snuff dish
Palace Workshops, Beijing, blue enamel Qianlong four-character mark and of the period
Of shallow quatrelobed form, raised on a short conforming foot, the interior superbly painted with a pair of birds perched one above the other on a blossoming prunus tree, with peony blooms borne on leafy stems by its side, all reserved on a finely-stippled blue ground, framed by a quatrelobed border enclosing half flower heads flanked by classic scrolls reserved on a yellow ground below the copper rim, the underside painted in puce with five bats, wu fu, amidst cloud scrolls reserved on a yellow ground, the base with the mark enamelled on the white ground.
6.6cm (2⅝in) wide

Footnotes

  • This exquisite lobed enamelled dish displays the superb craftsmanship of the Imperial Palace Workshops in Beijing, the Zaobanchu, and the extraordinary skill of its specialist painters in rendering naturalistic scenes onto miniature works of art.

    Imperial metal-bodied wares, such as the present lot, were most likely produced in the Imperial ateliers in the Imperial City, Beijing or in the Yuanming yuan. The Qianlong Emperor was involved with the achievement of the extraordinary level of quality of enamelled porcelain, and the advancement of enamels on metal wares to similar levels of technical excellence.

    'A typical order for an enamelled snuff bottle, whether on glass or metal, would start with the emperor ordering drawings made to define form and subject matter. These would be undertaken by court artists, among them eunuchs, and presented for approval. The emperor would then either give his approval or criticize some aspect of the design, ordering amendments. The final approved drawing would then be given to then enameller to copy. [...] The finished result was presented to the emperor, who might again make suggestions for improvement; these might involve alterations to the sample itself or the planning of refinements for subsequent works of the same type or with the same design. [...] Ultimately, the designers were court artists, whether Chinese or Jesuit, and the enameller might be an expert seconded from Guangzhou or Jingdezhen, or a court artist pressed into service, or even the odd Jesuit missionary from time to time, but the subject matter and, to some extent, the style were dictated by the emperor.' See H.Moss, V.Graham and K.B.Tsang, A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles: The Mary and George Bloch Collection, Vol.6, Part 1, Hong Kong, 2008, p.22.

    Compare a related asymmetrically shaped Beijing enamelled 'crab and flowers' snuff dish, Qianlong mark and period, from the Qing Court Collection, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Snuff Bottles, Hong Kong, 2003, pl.179. For examples of Beijing painted enamel vessels, dating to the Qianlong period, with related naturalistic depictions, see: The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Metal-Bodied Enamel Ware, Hong Kong, 2002, pl.210. For a similar design on a famille rose baoyueping, Yongzheng mark and period, see: R.E.Scott, Qing Porcelain for the Imperial Court from the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, New York, 1998, pl.54.

    See also a related but slightly larger Beijing enamelled circular brush washer, Qianlong mark and period, painted with two fish, offered at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 8 October 2010, lot 2607.
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