An extremely rare Imperial iron-red and gilt-decorated 'dragon' candlestick Yongzheng seal mark and of the period (2)

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Lot 6
An extremely rare Imperial iron-red and gilt-decorated 'dragon' candlestick
Yongzheng seal mark and of the period

Sold for HK$ 3,040,000 (US$ 390,026) inc. premium
The Property of a Gentleman 紳士藏品
An extremely rare Imperial iron-red and gilt-decorated 'dragon' candlestick
Yongzheng seal mark and of the period
Intricately and elegantly structured standing on a chalice-formed base with three cabriole legs, surmounted by a tall and slender stem in the form of a baluster issuing from an inverted bell-shaped section borne on a collar of elaborate leaves curving outward, supporting a wide and waisted dish-shaped drip pan, each facet of the base vividly enamelled in rich iron-red tones with a front-facing five-clawed dragon soaring ferociously amidst flames and ruyi-shaped clouds above turbulent waves, the mid-section similarly decorated with three striding dragons, each section divided by narrow bands of finely-gilt flowers on a café-au-lait ground and slim gilt borders, wood stand.
42cm (16 1/2in) high (2).


  • 清雍正 礬紅描金海水龍紋燭台 青花「大清雍正年製」篆書款

    Provenance 來源:
    Lieutenant-Colonel T.S.Cox and thence by descent


    Lieutenant-Colonel T.S.Cox time in China 1900 – 1902

    Lieutenant-Colonel T.S.Cox graduated from Sandhurst Military Academy in 1892 and was commissioned in 1894 in the 16th Indian Cavalry, The Bengal Lancers. His noteworthy military service included in 1897, Tochi Field Force, N.W. Frontier; and in 1900, the China Expeditionary Force during the Boxer Rebellion, when he was awarded the US Military Order of the Dragon. In 1901 he was seconded as the Advisor to the Chinese Government and awarded an Imperial decoration by Shanqi, Prince Su (1866-1922). In 1903 he was elected to the Royal Geographical Society. In 1903 he served as Captain in the Indian Army; between 1904–1907, he was posted in the D.M.O. War Office, London, the Balkans, Asia Minor, Somaliland, Abyssinia, Russian central Asia, and Ottoman Middle East; in 1911 he was awarded the King George V Delhi Coronation Durbar medal. Between 1912-1913 he was posted in the Middle East and Central Asia. In 1915, he took part in the Gallipoli Campaign and in 1916 transferred to command the 37th Dogras. In 1917 he served in the Mesopotamian campaign and was wounded whilst serving in the Aden Field Force. In 1920 he served with the Waziristan Field Force, NW Frontier; in 1921 he transferred to command the 3rd Madras Regiment and in 1925 retired from the Indian Army as Lieutenant-Colonel.

    July 1900: Cox was ordered to North China to join China Expeditionary Force to relieve the siege of the Beijing International Legation Area by Chinese 'Boxers'. Collected a troop of 16th Bengal Lancers in Hong Kong on August 15 1900 and disembarked at Sinho for Tianjin on September 11. Advanced on Beijing September/October 1900. Subsequently placed in charge of a 'Flying Column' sent to capture Boxer leaders at Baoding, a hundred miles south-west of Beijing. Campaign medal, and learned to speak Chinese. Passed 6-day Chinese language examination.

    January - June 1901 worked for the British Military Commander, General Sir Alfred Gaselee, and awarded Military Order of the Dragon in April. July 1901 promoted Staff Captain and seconded to raise and train a Battalion of Chinese Railway Police, whose task was to guard the Beijing, Tongshan, and Tianjin districts for the British High Command, stationed at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.

    January 1 – December 25 1902 Cox was the Officer Commanding Railway Police, Chinese Imperial Railways, most of this time under contract to the Chinese Imperial Government. In addition to this role, from June 1 to December 1902 he was 'Confidential Adviser' to His Imperial Highness Prince Su, Governor of Beijing (the Emperors uncle), and from August 15 to December 1902 also 'Confidential Adviser' to His Imperial Highness Prince Qing, Head of Chinese Octroi (Customs) Department. Cox received a Letter of Appreciation and was awarded a Chinese Imperial Decoration for his services. He left Beijing for India on December 25 1902.





    The present lot is exceedingly rare and no other example appears to have been published. It embodies the height of Qing dynasty porcelain production, reaching its zenith in quality and innovation under the supervision of the celebrated master potter, Tang Ying (1682-1756) and the guidance of the Yongzheng emperor. The complexity of its form and vulnerability underlines the rarity of this lot and the importance of its existence, having been safeguarded for over one hundred years.

    In form, the most comparable example is that of a famille rose moulded candlestick, Yongzheng four-character mark and period, which was sold at Christie's London on 8 November 2011, lot 406, and later sold at Poly Auction, Beijing, on 6 June 2015, lot 6330. The rare famille rose moulded example, formed part of a five-piece garniture, comprising an incense burner, two vases and two candlesticks; see Christie's London, 7 April 1982, lot 62, for an example of a three-piece famille rose moulded part-set, Yongzheng mark and period, comprising an incense burner and two vases. The only other known candlestick of the famille rose moulded type, is the extant lower section, which was sold in our London rooms on 5 November 2009, part lot 195. Similarly, it is possible that the present lot would have been part of a five-piece garniture set, as may be indicated by a similarly decorated iron-red enamelled 'dragon' hexagonal vase, Yongzheng, with similar design with fiery dragons amidst flames and clouds above crashing waves, which was sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong on 8 October 2014, lot 3706, although this example unlike the present lot and the famille rose moulded examples, does not bear a Yongzheng mark.

    Tang Ying, a bondservant of the Plain White Banner at the Imperial Household Department, had served at the court in Beijing from the age of 16. Before he became a master potter, he had already been well versed in painting and calligraphy – accomplishments that helped him later in his career to boost the quality of porcelain decoration at the Imperial kilns. While still serving the court in Beijing, the Yongzheng emperor already had him create designs for porcelains produced at Jingdezhen. In 1726 he was sent to supervise the Jingdezhen Imperial kilns personally, and continued his services during the Qianlong emperor's reign. In his innovations, Tang Ying turned to Chinese antiquity for inspiration, but also to the exotic influence of the West, which began with the Kangxi emperor's fascination with scientific instruments and technological advancements brought to the Imperial court by Jesuit priests and artisans, but also continued during the following Yongzheng and Qianlong reigns. According to the official list from 1735, recorded on the Taocheng jishi bei ji [Commemorative Stele on Ceramic Production] composed by Tang Ying, an order from the Yongzheng emperor was noted: 'Imitate the Western cast vessels, (including) five-piece altar sets, dishes, vases etc., paint to render (effect), also emulate the Western painting style'.

    The Yongzheng emperor's fascination with the West is aptly demonstrated in the commissioned portrait showing the emperor in a European outfit, reinforcing the Imperial image of ruler of 'all under heaven'; see A.Jackson and A.Jaffer, eds., Encounters: The Meeting of Asia and Europe 1500-1800, London, 2004, p.8. The modelling of the present lot, influenced in form by European silver candlesticks, yet adorned with the Imperial five-clawed dragons amidst clouds and above breaking waves, islands and bats, provides a cultural link between East and West, the emperor and the European influence on Chinese aesthetics.

    本器造型新穎,器型以西方十八世紀巴洛克風格的三足銀燭台為摹仿對象,可能為當時督窯官唐英新創式樣。下部為座,三彎腿足,上承兩截柱,下截柱為倒置鈴形,承於充滿洛可可風格的葉紋之上,托細長瓶形支柱,上有束腰寬盤。下三足座及兩截柱以礬紅彩飾三組海水雲龍紋,六條龍分別在海水江崖上騰躍或奔行於祥雲間,每組龍紋均間以醬地描金花卉紋及纖細描金線相隔。此器所施礬紅彩鮮艷奪目,所繪龍紋神妙入微,形態生動,矯健有力,且紋飾密而不亂,非常流暢, 加上其造型結構奇巧,製作工藝繁縟複雜,可見匠心獨運,傳世品中很罕見,歷經二百多年仍能看到原型,彌足珍貴。


An extremely rare Imperial iron-red and gilt-decorated 'dragon' candlestick Yongzheng seal mark and of the period (2)
An extremely rare Imperial iron-red and gilt-decorated 'dragon' candlestick Yongzheng seal mark and of the period (2)
An extremely rare Imperial iron-red and gilt-decorated 'dragon' candlestick Yongzheng seal mark and of the period (2)
An extremely rare Imperial iron-red and gilt-decorated 'dragon' candlestick Yongzheng seal mark and of the period (2)
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