Beijing palace enamel on metal basket of flowers. Qianlong mark
Lot 67
A Beijing enamel 'basket of flowers' snuff bottle Imperial, palace workshops, Qianlong blue-enamel mark and of the period, 1736–1770
Sold for HK$ 2,640,000 (US$ 340,369) inc. premium

Lot Details
Beijing palace enamel on metal basket of flowers. Qianlong mark Beijing palace enamel on metal basket of flowers. Qianlong mark Beijing palace enamel on metal basket of flowers. Qianlong mark Beijing palace enamel on metal basket of flowers. Qianlong mark Beijing palace enamel on metal basket of flowers. Qianlong mark
A Beijing enamel 'basket of flowers' snuff bottle
Imperial, palace workshops, Qianlong blue-enamel mark and of the period, 1736–1770
sold with accompanying watercolour by Peter Suart
4.22cm high.


  • Treasury 6, no. 1079

    御製品,宮廷作坊,乾隆年藍楷款, 1736~1770

    Basket of Abundance

    Famille rose enamels on copper, with gold; with a flat lip and slightly recessed, slightly concave foot surrounded by a protruding flat footrim; painted to simulate a basket of flowers, the base of the bottle acting as the woven basket, its upper edge with a band of fylfots (wan symbols) enclosed in circles and the foot of the basket with a diaper pattern of the same motif, the two basket handles on the narrow sides with a separate carrying handle hooked into them, dividing at the shoulders to encircle the neck, each with a tied ribbon on the main side, the basket filled with two peaches growing from an unseen branch, the leaves of which are visible, a bunch of grapes, two Buddha's hand citrons, two plums, a persimmon, and other fruit, with chrysanthemums and daisies, the upper body with a blue-stippled white ground representing the sky; 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 gilt
    Imperial, palace workshops, Beijing, 1736–1770
    Height: 4.22 cm
    Mouth/lip: 0.68/1.19 cm
    Stopper: gilt bronze; chased with a formalized floral design
    Condition: perfect; minor surface scratches and abrasions visible only under magnification. General relative condition: unusually excellent; even the original gilding is largely intact, with only minor wear

    Illustration: watercolour by Peter Suart

    Martin Schoen
    Paul and Helen Bernat
    Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 15 November 1988, lot 79
    Moss 1976, plate 27
    Arts of Asia, September-October 1990, p. 96
    JICSBS, Winter 1992, front cover
    Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no. 5
    Kleiner 1995, no. 8
    Treasury 6, no. 1079

    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

    The subject of a basket of flowers or fruit, or both, was a popular one at the palace workshops during the eighteenth century. It appears on glass snuff bottles that can be attributed to the court starting from the early Qianlong period at the latest (see Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, no. 362, where no. 395 is a spectacular late-Qianlong, double overlay with begonias in a basket). It was also a popular design on the Guyue xuan group of enamelled glass wares from the second half of the Qianlong reign, represented in the Bloch Collection by Treasury 6, no. 1105. Others may be found in the J & J Collection, Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, no. 200; Kleiner 1990, no. 51 (decorated with two baskets, one with the emblems of the Eight Immortals, one with flowers); Chinese Snuff Bottles 6, no. E.7, and JICSBS, Spring 2004, back cover, lower-left, the spectacular example from the Marakovic Collection. Although the design was popular in the Qianlong period, it can be traced back to palace enamelling of the Kangxi reign. One of the enamelled porcelains bowls with floral decoration bearing the mark Kangxi yuzhi (Made by imperial command of the Kangxi emperor) has a group of auspicious flowers contained within a 'basket' of lotus petals, the foot of the bowl painted as a cylindrical segment of the upper stem (Guoli Gugong bowuyuan 1967a, plate 8). It would have been a small leap of the imagination to evolve this design into the popular baskets of flowers of the Qianlong period. The popularity of the subject probably arises from one likely symbolic reading of the basket (lanzi) that may suggest male children (nanzi), one of the three desires dear to the Chinese heart that are embodied in the term Sanduo (Three plenties). These are, Duofu (Plenty of happiness), Duoshou (Plenty of years to live) and Duonanzi (Plenty of male children). The concept can be traced back to the 'Heaven and Earth' chapter in the Zhuangzi, compiled during the Warring States period. The 'Three plenties' or 'Three abundances' are also represented by the Buddha's hand citron, peach, and pomegranate, two of which appear in the basket here. The pomegranate may have been considered superfluous given the similar symbolic meaning of the basket itself, or the inclusion of grapes, which are also a symbol of ample progeny. Longevity is represented by the peach.

    It seems technically preferable to enamel both the inner and outer surfaces of any form when painting with enamels on metal. This helps equalize the tensions between the brittle, glassy enamel surface and the metal ground, and with one or two rare exceptions (significantly, experimental wares from early Guangzhou production, such as Treasury 6, no. 1124), enamelled snuff bottles have a coating of enamel inside. Decoratively this is meaningless, since it is all but invisible, even without any snuff in the bottle. Functionally, it could have done little to maintain the qualities of the snuff, since in most cases the interior enamelling is sufficiently patchy that significant areas of metal are left exposed. Covering the interior surface of a snuff bottle with enamel was obviously rather difficult, more difficult than glazing the interior of a larger vessel, and the fact that even flat panels intended to be inserted in furniture or other objects, where their backs would never be seen, are similarly enamelled suggests that it can only have been a technical requirement. Although there are exceptions, as there always are to those 'rules of thumb' in which beginners delight and that experts try to avoid, there is one that may prove a useful, even if not infallible guide to origin: it seems that the majority of eighteenth century Beijing enamel snuff bottles were painted inside with turquoise enamel, while white was used on their Guangzhou counterparts. The occasional late-Qianlong Beijing enamel may flout the rule, as does Treasury 6, no. 1107, but it is a useful one nonetheless.



    御製品,宮廷作坊, 1736~1770
    高:4.22 厘米
    口經/唇經:0.68/1.19 厘米

    有彼德小話 (Peter Suart) 水彩畫

    Martin Shoen
    Paul and Helen Bernat
    Moss 1976, 插圖27
    Arts of Asia, 1990年9 月~10月,頁96
    《國際中國鼻煙壺協會的學術期刊》Journal of the International Chinese Snuff Bottle Society, 1992年冬期,封面
    Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, 編號5
    Kleiner 1995, 編號8
    Treasury 6, 編號1079
    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

    十八世紀中,籃花、籃水果的圖形是宮廷作坊吃香的內容。最晚推定作為乾隆初的玻璃煙壺就有之(Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, 編號362;同書編號395為乾隆晚期奪目的二層套料籃花煙壺)。乾隆後半期的古月軒玻璃胎畫琺瑯器也常見這類圖形, 如Treasury 6 編號1105;Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, 編號200;Kleiner 1990, 編號51 ;Chinese Snuff Bottles 6, 頁105,編號E.7;《國際中國鼻煙壺協會的學術期刊》Journal of the International Chinese Snuff Bottle Society, 200401 春期,封底左下,Marakovic 珍藏的奪目煙壺之一。這個圖形可以追溯到康熙的宮廷作坊琺瑯畫,參照國立故宮博物院1967a,插圖8的"康熙御製"碗,所畫盛放吉祥花朵的蓮瓣"籃"很容易會進展成乾隆期的花籃。

    從技術方面來看,金屬胎的琺瑯器還是內壁塗琺瑯好,有助於使易碎的琺瑯面和金屬地的張力相等。除了寥寥幾件的琺瑯煙壺(如廣州早期的試驗器)以外,所有的琺瑯鼻煙壺都是內壁塗琺瑯的。從修飾方面來看,器內的琺瑯當然沒有意義,就是壺裏沒有鼻煙也看不見。從保護鼻煙質量方面來看,也不濟於事﹕小小的煙壺內塗琺瑯,顯然不順手,一般都斑駁不均。借鑒家具畫琺瑯的鑲板雖然板背永不露出但還是塗琺瑯的,我們可以推斷這樣作是技術要求。一種概測法是﹕十八世紀的琺瑯煙壺內壁塗綠松色的北京作的,塗白色的是廣州作的。當然,這並非放之四海而皆準; Treasury 6,編號1107的乾隆晚期北京琺瑯煙壺就是一個例外。
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