Rare et importante paire de boîtes couvertes en bronze doré, émaux cloisonnés et champlevés. Chine, Dynastie Qing, époque Qianlong (1736-1795). Photo: Christie's Images Ltd., 2010

De forme circulaire, le dessus du couvercle orné d'un décor représentant une jardinière contenant divers Objets Précieux ou de Bon Augure, surmontée d'un grand caractère Chun (Printemps), ce dernier rehaussé d'un médaillon représentant Shoulao entouré d'un daim et d'une grue, deux dragons puissants à cinq griffes volant de part et d'autre parmi les nuages, les côtés de la boîte et du couvercle ornés de cartouches à décor de dragons tenant la perle sacrée ou de chauve-souris et pierre sonore, alternant avec les Huit Emblèmes Bouddhiques sur fond de treillis losangés, les bordures agrémentées de frises de pétales ou grecques, la base d'une fleur centrale entourée de rinceaux feuillagés et svastikas, l'intérieur doré ; un petit éclat; Diamètre: 36 cm. (14 1/8 in.) (2). Est. €200,000 - €300,000 - Price Realized €3,201,000

Provenance: Baron James de Rothschild (1792-1868) Collection, Château de Ferrières and from then by descent

Le château de Ferrières est localisé à 25 km à l'est de Paris et non en Normandie
Château de Ferrières is not located in Normandy but 25 km east from Paris

In l853, James de Rothschild (1792-1868) employed Joseph Paxton, the famous architect of the Crystal Palace for England's l850 Great Exhibition, together with Alfred Stokes, his son in law to build the Château de Ferrières, 25 km east from Paris.

The swagged and fringed velvet curtains were raised on 'le style Rothschild', whose components were drawn from a wide range of styles, from Renaissance to Louis XIV. A judicious mix of l8th century French and Italian furniture was shown with Boulle, ebony, ormolu, Old Masters, fine porcelains from Europe and China, arabesque carpets and painted furniture; rare works of art and exquisitely crafted objects were drawn from the whole span of human creative endeavour.
The overall impression of 'le style Rothschild' was a combination of unbridled magnificence combined with highly opulent comfort.

The present pair of cloisonné boxes has been kept in the same family throughout the 19th and 20th centuries and this is the first time they have been available to buy over 100 years.

Notes: The motifs decorating this box and others like it are all very auspicious. The character Chun (Spring) on the cover is also a metaphor for youth. Combined with the overlaying roundel of Shoulao, the god of Longevity, the box would have represented wishes for eternal youth. These combined with the other imagery: the dragons amidst clouds, the flames rising from the bowl of 'treasures' and the Buddhist emblems arrayed around the sides also add to the auspicious nature of the box. These boxes were made for birthday celebrations or were commissioned by the emperor to be given away on the occasion of a birthday.
The themes represented here follow very closely those executed in cinnabar lacquer dated to the same period, such as the box offered in this sale (lot 213) or the example from the Avery Brundage Collection, illustrated by H. Garner, Chinese Lacquer, p. 148, fig. 90; and the polychrome lacquer box from the Manno Art Museum, offered in the sale, 'One Man's Vision, Important Chinese Art from the Manno Art Museum', Hong Kong, 29 October 2002, lot 568.

The cloisonné Chun boxes are much more unusual and the only comparable example seems to be a pair of smaller gilt-bronze and cloisonné enamel boxes from Qianlong period, sold in our Hong Kong Rooms, 28 October 2002, lot 772 and again at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 9 October 2007, lot 1323.

Christie's. Art d'Asie, 15 December 2010, Paris www.christies.com