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The sale features representative examples of Imperial cloisonné enamel wares made during the 18th century, the most prolific era of cloisonné production in China. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2013.

HONG KONG.- On May 29, 2013, Christie’s Hong Kong will present “Reverence and Perfection – Magnificent Imperial Cloisonné Enamels from a Private European Collection”, as part of its spring sales of Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art. Comprising 26 pieces and estimated to realize in excess of HK$41 million (US$5.3 million), this group of works is diverse in size and shape. The sale features representative examples of Imperial cloisonné enamel wares made during the 18th century, the most prolific era of cloisonné production in China. 

A considerable number of pieces from this sale are large-sized vessels including censers, vases and a fish basin, many of which bear Qianlong reign marks. Not only are they of intrinsic historical and aesthetic value, but also ideal decorative objects to be placed in contemporary homes. The collection also includes a group of small and delicate scholar’s objects including brush rests, incense burners and miniature vases, which will likely interest those with a taste for refined details. 

The pieces in this collection were carefully chosen by a private European collector and mainly acquired from prominent dealers in the field or at world-class auction houses. With a focus on works with fine craftsmanship, the collector has succeeded in forming a comprehensive collection of Qing cloisonné enamels that well exhibits his discerning and keen eye as well as expert knowledge. 

Cloisonné is a complex ancient technique of decorating metal vessels, cast from either copper or bronze, with paste enamels applied within copper wire enclosures. Cloisonné enamels were largely used at the Imperial court during the 18th century. Boasting an air of grandeur and elegance, they possess a timeless appeal and can be placed in a variety of home interiors. From the 18th century onwards, collecting Chinese cloisonné enamels became in vogue among Europeans since the incorporation of Chinese works of art into European homes was considered a symbol of fine taste and style. Cloisonné enamels produced in the Qing Dynasty, which also combine various Chinese and Western decorative elements, are able to blend in a wide array of interior settings and therefore continue to appeal to contemporary interior designers and tastemakers worldwide. 

In recent years, significant collectors of cloisonné enamel have emerged in Europe, Russia and Greater China, indicating a strong global interest for cloisonné enamel works of art.