A 'famille-rose' enamel on copper with gold 'European subject snuff bottle
Imperial, palace workshops, Beijing, Qianlong blue-enamelled four-character mark and of the period, 17361775 5.02cm high.
Treasury 6, no. 1078
A 'famille-rose' enamelled-copper 'European ladies with children' snuff bottle
Famille rose enamels on copper, with gold; with a flat lip and slightly concave foot surrounded by a flat footrim; painted on each main side with an irregular oval panel of European subjects, one a seated woman with a young boy, an elaborate, castellated building and trees in the hilly background, the other a standing woman holding a flower in her left hand, also with a young boy, buildings, trees and shrubbery beyond, the blue skies of each panel with clouds, each panel framed by two stylized butterflies, their elongated wings touching, the panels surrounded by a formalized floral design of millefleurs on a brown ground; the foot inscribed in blue regular script, Qianlong nian zhi ('Made during the Qianlong era'); the interior covered with a patchy, turquoise-blue enamel, the exposed metal with traces of original gilding Imperial, palace workshops, Beijing, 17361775 Height: 5.02 cm Mouth/lip: 0.71/1.24 cm Stopper: gilt bronze, chased with a formalized floral design
Condition: Some mild enamel separation at the surface, part of the original process of manufacture; gold worn from all exposed copper surfaces. General relative condition: unusually excellent
Provenance: Alex S. Cussons Hugh M. Moss, Ltd. (1978) Belfort Collection (1986)
Published: L'Estampille, no. 106, February 1979, p. 42 JICSBS, March 1979, front cover Jutheau 1980, p. 57, figs. 4, 5, and 6 Kleiner 1987, no. 5 Kleine Schätze aus China, p. 5 JICSBS, Autumn 1989, p. 22, fig. 10 Kleiner 1994a, p. 14, fig. 2.1 Kleiner 1995, no. 5 Treasury 6, no. 1078
Exhibited: Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, October 1987 Creditanstalt, Vienna, MayJune 1993 British Museum, London, JuneOctober 1995 Israel Museum, Jerusalem, JulyNovember 1997
Stylistically and technically, this example is obviously part of the early phase of Qianlong enamelling. It has a typical early millefleurs design surrounding the main panels, equally well-drawn and elaborate, though set on a rare brown ground that makes it distinctive. There are hints of mid-reign style, however, in the painting and, particularly, in the simpler neck and foot bands. During the mid-reign, although elaborate neck and base borders are still common, there is a gradual trend towards simpler designs, culminating in their complete elimination on the double-plane Guyue xuan wares of, for example, Sale 1, lot 135 and Sale 2, lot 77, produced at some time during the last three decades of the century. These differences may reflect no more than the preferences of a different designer during the earlier phase, but we expect they will turn out to have some chronological significance.
The butterflies, with their elongated wings, are a rare departure from standard palace framing devices, but butterflies turn up frequently as the main decoration on palace enamels from the Kangxi through to the end of the Qianlong era.
The disparity in the gilding suggest that this is not the original stopper, although old and appropriate, which makes it a little unlikely that the spoon is original as well, although it is of the correct style.