A 'famille-rose' enamel on copper with gold 'figures in mansion' snuff bottle. Imperial, palace workshops, Beijing, Kangxi blue-enamelled four-character mark and of the period, 1705–1718Photo Bonhams

4.9cm high. Lot 167. Estimate: HK$ 2.5 million - 4.5 million / US$ 320,000 - 580,000 / £200,000 - 360,000

Treasury 6, no. 1064 


A 'famille-rose' enamelled copper 'figures in mansion' snuff bottle

Famille rose enamels on copper, with gold; with a flat lip and recessed, slightly convex foot surrounded by a protruding flat footrim; painted on each main side with a foliate panel, one with two women and two young boys in the garden of a waterside pavilion, the other with a young woman standing pensively, her right hand resting on the back of a bench seat placed in front of a marble-topped painting table, the panels surrounded by a design of scrolling formalized flowers; the foot inscribed in variegated blue, green, black, and reddish-brown regular script, Kangxi yuzhi ('Made by Imperial command of the Kangxi emperor'), the interior covered with a patchy, pale turquoise-blue enamel, the exposed lip and inner neck with traces of original gilding
Imperial, palace workshops, Beijing, 1705–1718
Height: 4.9 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.67/1.22 cm
Stopper: gilt bronze, chased with a formalized floral design; possibly original

ConditionTiny chip restored above footrim, with a larger bruised area partially repainted above it on narrow side (covering an area of about 1.7 x .8 cm overall); gilding all worn, and some green encrustation to the copper body

ProvenanceRobert Hall (1987)

PublishedOrientations, October 1987, p. 72
Arts of Asia, September–October 1990, p. 96
Hall 1987,no. 68
Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no. 2
Kleiner 1995, no. 2
Treasury 6, no. 1064

Exhibited: 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 Kangxi emperor is on record as not being fond of figure subjects. The present subject, showing women and children at leisure in what is probably an idealized representation of the women's quarters of a palace, is unique among Kangxi enamels. 

It is safe to assume that this is among the earlier examples from the group of Kangxi enamelled-metal wares. The palette consists mainly of traditional famille verte colours with the addition of only a dull, pale pink (remarkably similar in colour and texture to that on Sale 3, lot 73), and a slightly pastel yellow, which may be either a development of cloisonné enamels or an imported colour. If it is the latter, the scarcity of imported enamels and the keen demand for them would account for their sparing use on early wares. 

The subject matter is another indication of an early date. Atypical of the established output of the Kangxi workshops, the article was probably produced experimentally before the emperor imposed his preference for floral subjects. It is significant that on wares other than snuff, landscape designs in which the landscape is the main subject are all from the earliest, experimental output of the palace enamellers. Once production transcended experimentation and settled into standard production, Imperial preference for floral subjects became obvious. 

The third indication of a very early date is the mark. It is atypical, appearing at first glance to be in a rather strange black enamel, but under magnification the lines are revealed to be variegated; the colour has broken down into green and blue with some black speckling, and with distinct areas of brick red. It is a clear indication of an early, experimental use of the enamels in mark writing. The fact that the mark is large in relation to the foot, touching the footrim in several places, is another indication of a mark writer testing the options from which a standard could evolve. 

The stopper is possibly the original. Apart from being a good match, it has the same distinctive design chased on it as Sale 4, lot 166, which must be the original (and even retains what appears to be its original spoon). They are distinguished by a central finial surrounded by radiating broad petals, from which tendrils hang down towards the integral collar.


銅胎畫粉彩、黃金;平唇, 微凸斂底,突出圈足,圈足底全面接觸地面;一正面畫二婦人芭蕉下帶兒童,另一正面畫一婦人站在畫桌前作懷思姿勢,開光周圍畫卷枝花紋,底以藍、綠、黑、紅褐斑駁闓書"康熙御製"無款雙行楷書款,內壁施不均的淡綠松石藍琺瑯,不施琺瑯的唇與頸內都呈原本的鎏金的痕跡
高﹕ 4.9 厘米
口徑/唇徑: 0.67/1.22 厘米
蓋﹕ 鎏金青銅,鏤刻形式化的花朵,可能是原件

狀態敘述:圈足上有修補的微小缺口,一側面有部分地回復原彩的擦傷處(一共有約1.7 x .8 平方厘米);鎏金都呈損耗,銅胎呈一點銅綠 

來源: 羅伯特.霍爾 (1987)

文獻﹕Orientations, October 1987, p. 72
Arts of Asia, September–October 1990, p. 96
Hall 1987,編號 68
Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, 編號 2
Kleiner 1995, 編號 2
Treasury 6, 編號 1064

National Museum of 新加坡,1994年11月~1995年2月
大英博物館, 1995年6月~10月
Israel Museum, 耶路撒冷,1997年7月~月11月 


色調基本上是傳統的五彩,加有不鮮明的淡粉紅,很像第三場拍賣會,拍賣品號 73,和一種輕淡黃色,或許是自外國輸入的或者景泰藍技術的進化。


蓋或許是原件。它不但很相配,而且鏤有跟 第四場拍賣會,拍賣品號 166, 上的蓋一樣的花紋,而那件大概是原件。

Bonhams. 27 May 2012 10 a.m. Hong KongSnuff Bottles from the Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part V