Opaque iron-red, and translucent green, yellow, and blue enamels on translucent white glass; with a flat lip and protruding flat foot; painted with a continuous design of flowering chrysanthemums and asters growing from a rocky ground, beneath a neck band of double-unit leiwen ('thunder pattern'); with a small seal bearing the date yiwei in positive, regular script; the foot inscribed in iron-red regular script, Guyue xuan ('Ancient Moon Pavilion') Imperial, palace workshops, Beijing, 1775 Height: 6.12 cm Mouth/lip: 0.9/1.8 cm Stopper: pearl; gilt-silver collar
Condition: Flake chip to inner lip; abrasions to enamels through use, particularly to the mark. General relative condition: very good
Provenance: Unrecorded source, Hong Kong, prior to 1975 Hugh Moss (HK) Ltd. (2003)
Published: JICSBS, Spring 1997, back cover JICSBS, Spring 2006, p. 19, fig. 8 Treasury 6, no. 1091
The type of glass, the form, limited palette, style of painting, mark, and enamels all link this to the intriguing group of mid-Qianlong enamels produced at the court for a few years from mid-1767 and represented by Sale 3, lot 90, among others in the collection. It bears, however, a later date than any of the others in a small seal included as part of the decoration: a cyclical date corresponding to 1775. In this case, we can be sure that the date refers to the enamelling. When a date accompanies a poem or other inscription, perhaps copied from a painting, it may refer to the original date of composition or inscription, but when it appears in combination with a reign mark or alone, it can be expected to refer to the date of the work of art on which it appears.
The artist here has moved beyond decorative, symbolic subjects with little inherent artistic content to an elegant design for primarily artistic ends. The design is quite bold, with its heavy use of dark iron red for the flowers, and the relatively simple palette is applied to a considerably more sophisticated painting than those dated between 1676 and 1770. The earlier examples are almost childlike in their conception; this is more subtle, particularly in the painting and variation in the flower heads. It is also evident from the sophisticated manner in which the enamels are used, in three distinct registers of colour, each composed in an intriguing abstract composition. The iron-red flowers, of various sizes and at different heights, form an upper register; the green leaves and stems a central register, and the blue rocks a lower one.