Palace enamel on metal with European ladies in blue palette.  Qianlong mark
Lot 129
A Beijing enamel European-subject snuff bottle Imperial, palace workshops, 1736–1760, Qianlong blue-enamel mark and of the period
Sold for HK$ 9,280,000 (US$ 1,197,419) inc. premium
Lot Details
A Beijing enamel European-subject snuff bottle
Imperial, palace workshops, 1736–1760, Qianlong blue-enamel mark and of the period
4.22cm high.

Footnotes

  • Treasury 6, no. 1076


    銅胎琺瑯彩西洋人物鼻煙壺
    御製品,宮廷作坊,北京,藍琺瑯彩書乾隆年款,1736~1760


    Gathering Clouds

    Famille rose enamels on copper, with gold; with a flat lip and slightly recessed concave foot surrounded by a protruding flat footrim; painted on each main side with a foliate panel of European subjects, one a woman and a young boy with an elaborate building and trees in the background, the other a woman with a basket of flowers and fruit and a young boy with buildings and the tree-clad banks of a stream behind her, the panels surrounded by a formalized floral design; the neck with a formalized floral band; the foot inscribed in blue regular script, Qianlong nian zhi (Made during the Qianlong period), the interior covered with a patchy, turquoise-blue enamel, the exposed metal all gilt
    Imperial, palace workshops, Beijing, 1736–1760
    Height: 4.55 cm
    Mouth/lip: 0.70/1.13 cm
    Stopper: gilt bronze, chased with a formalized floral design; probably original
    Condition: perfect and in kiln condition, with even the original gilding intact; some minor original pitting of some of the enamels, particularly the olive-green around the neck and very minor separation lines visible only under magnification. General relative condition: extraordinarily good


    Provenance:
    A. W. Bahr
    Robert H. Ellsworth
    Christie's, New York, 9 May 1981, lot 419
    Hugh M. Moss, Ltd (1981)
    Paula J. Hallett (1986)
    Hugh Moss (HK), Ltd (1986)

    Published:
    JICSBS, Winter 1986, front cover
    Kleiner 1987, no. 2
    Galeries Lafayette 1990, p. 7, no. 1
    Illustrated London News, Summer 1990, p. 49
    Orient Express Magazine, Summer 1990, p. 49
    Prestige, Summer 1990, p. 49
    E & O Magazine 2, no. 4 (1994), p. 62
    Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no. 6
    Kleiner 1995, no. 3
    Treasury 6, no. 1076

    Exhibited:
    Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, October 1987
    Galeries Lafayette, Paris, April 1990
    Creditanstalt, Vienna, May–June 1993
    Hong Kong Museum of Art, March–June 1994
    National Museum of Singapore, November 1994–February 1995
    British Museum, London, June–October 1995
    Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July–November 1997

    Commentary:
    The extraordinary artistry of painted enamels at the palace workshops during the early Qianlong period can be seen in so many aspects of surviving examples. There is a wide range of subjects, and where a subject is repeated it is always recomposed as a fresh, vital work of art. Given the quantity of bottles that must have been produced with the theme of a European mother and child, for instance, this speaks of a very high level of artistic commitment. It would have been so easy to simply make a number of bottles of the same composition, from the same preparatory drawing, but this was rarely done at the palace workshops prior to the second half of the Qianlong period, and even then sparingly and only in the case of a few designs.
    The variation in early palace enamel designs, even of similar themes, is spectacularly demonstrated here. By introducing dark clouds to the common motif of mother and child, the artist has created an entirely different mood, enlivening a standard theme. Elsewhere, skies are left in pale blue and white to indicate clouds in a blue sky, or simply shaded a very pale blue for a cloudless sky, both idyllic. The effect of the brooding, grey sky suggesting a gathering storm is dramatic, starkly emphasizing the white buildings and their European style and the slightly melancholic expressions of the women. Portraiture in China, other than of certain deities, rarely depicts smiling faces, and the standard for women in the Qing dynasty was for either inscrutability or a melancholic, wistful look. None of the European women depicted on enamels is smiling, and yet we get the impression that they are happy because of the idyllic setting. Gathering, brooding clouds change all that, and we have only to compare this scene to Treasury 6, no. 1077 to fully grasp their effect.

    Another feature of these early-Qianlong palace masterpieces is the extraordinary variation in the borders and surrounding decoration that, despite being peripheral detail, commanded equal artistic commitment. Not until the mid-reign do we begin to see repeated borders and the repetition of certain compositions with little variation between them, hinting at the beginning of a reduction in artistic standards and a shift to the more decorative intent of some of the enamels from the last third of the reign. Technically, the art of enamelling may remain the same or, in the case of enamelled glass, improve during the mid-century, but artistically the first third of the reign represents the zenith of Qianlong enamelling. The borders here are spectacular. They employ a visual trick similar to that seen in the main panels, setting the design against a darker ground to create contrast and emphasis. The yellow dots filling the olive-green ground at the shoulders and around the base and the similar colour scheme for the floral band around the neck are extremely rare and appear only on this example and in a small way on Treasury 6, no. 1077. The palace artists, designers, and administrators responsible for enamels in the first two decades of the reign were obviously revelling in their newfound technical skills and responded to the intense interest of the emperor with astonishing artistry. In bottles such as this, it shows. Like most enamelled metal bottles from the period, this example appears to the naked eye to have fired to perfection, but as usual, magnification reveals a few tiny areas of pitting in the enamels.

    樓峻似人白,秋陰與天低

    銅胎施琺瑯彩;平唇、略斂凹底、突出平底圈足;腹兩面開光各別,彩繪西洋人物母子圖、母女圖,背後繪洋式樓與叢樹,頸部繪花卉紋一週,開光間為歐洲洛可可式的葉紋飾;底藍書雙行"乾隆年製"四字楷款;腹內壁施不均的松石藍琺瑯彩,露胎處描金

    御製品,宮廷作坊,北京,1736~1760
    高:4.55 厘米
    口經/唇經:0.70/1.13厘米
    蓋:描金的青銅,起花縟麗,大概為原件
    狀態敘述:完善,出窯狀況,連原來的描金也保存得完好;琺瑯彩表面呈現原有的瘡孔,特別是在頸部的橄欖褐色地,亦有肉眼看不見、微小的收縮裂縫;一般相對的狀態:非常完好

    來源:
    A. W. Bahr
    Robert H. Ellsworth
    佳士得,紐約,1981年5 月9日,拍賣品號419
    Hugh M. Moss, Ltd (1981)
    Paula J. Hallett (1986)
    Hugh Moss (HK), Ltd (1986
    文獻:
    《國際中國鼻煙壺協會的學術期刊》Journal of the International Chinese Snuff Bottle Society, 1986冬期,封面
    Kleiner 1987,編號2
    Galeries Lafayette 1990, 頁7,編號1
    Illustrated London News, 1990年夏期,頁49
    Orient Express Magazine, 1990年夏期,頁49
    Prestige, 1990年夏期,頁49
    E & O Magazine 2, 第4號 (1994年),頁62
    Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, 編號6
    Kleiner 1995, 編號3
    Treasury 6,編號1076
    展覽﹕
    Sydney L. Moss Ltd, 倫敦, 1987年10 月
    Galeries Lafayette, 巴黎,1990年4月
    Creditanstalt, 維也納, 1993年5月~6月
    香港藝術館,1994年3 月~6月
    National Museum of Singapore, 1994年11月~1995年1月
    大英博物館, 倫敦, 1995年6月~10 月
    Israel Museum, 耶路撒冷, 1997年7月~11月

    說明:
    乾隆早期宮廷作坊作的琺瑯西洋母子鼻煙壺,多不勝數,但雖然是同一個題材,並不是千篇一律。不知道是設計專家預備畫稿還是琺瑯匠臨時想方設法,但本壺也代表這種創新精神。譬如說,畫師添上了陰雲,襯托正在作白日夢的婦女的金髮玉面,也使這兩幅圖像與其他母子圖氣氛迥然不同。繪畫中的明清婦女跟西洋女人不同,老是陰幽幽的,本壺的背景有使畫面的氣調柔和一些的效果,減輕異邦的感覺。

    特別令人拍案叫絕的是開光周圍的花紋。到了乾隆中期才遇到飾邊的重複。在材料品質和技術能力方面,十八世紀中期也許稱得上高峰,特別是玻璃胎琺瑯彩領域內,但在藝術價值方面,乾隆間最初三十年才是高潮。開光外的暗色地有效地襯托洛可可式的葉紋飾,近底和頸部一周的橄欖褐色地純黃點絕無僅有,也顯示,當時所有跟琺瑯彩的技術革新有關係的設計專家、管理員、琺瑯匠等,因皇帝對他們的工藝和技術突破也那麼感興趣,一定要感恩圖報,不論大小要竭力盡能。
Activities
Auction information

This sale is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future sales, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this sale, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations

ALL BIDDERS MUST AGREE THAT THEY HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD BONHAMS' CONDITIONS OF SALE AND AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THEM, AND AGREE TO PAY THE BUYER'S PREMIUM AND ANY OTHER CHARGES MENTIONED IN THE NOTICE TO BIDDERS. THIS AFFECTS THE BIDDERS LEGAL RIGHTS.

If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories excluding Wine:

Buyer's Premium Rates
25% on the first HKD800,000 of the Hammer Price
20% from HKD800,001 to HKD1,000,000 of the Hammer Price
12% on the excess over HKD1,000,000 of the Hammer Price.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licences please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

Similar items