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A very fine pair of large famille rose fishbowls, Qianlong. Photo Bonhams.

Each of globular form set with a pair of relief lion-mask handles, rising to the waisted neck and flaring rim, supported on a spreading foot, the main border colourfully enamelled in red, white, blue, yellow green, rose, brown and gilt with sprays of peony, chrysanthemum, magnolia and aster issuing from gnarled branches amidst rockwork, all between the foot variously enamelled with lappets or ruyi and red-enamelled lotus scroll, the shoulders with a cloud scroll alternating with flower heads also on the wide rim, the neck similarly decorated with floral sprays below the rim edge with a classic scroll, the interior superbly enamelled with fish swimming amidst aquatic plants, wood stands. 63cm (24¾in) wide (4). Estimate £75,000 - 85,000 (€90,000 - 100,000). Unsold

Magnificent and stately bowls such as the present lot were highly sought after by the wealthy and fashionable classes of 18th century England. Of smooth white porcelain and richly enamelled, their sheer size and vibrancy of decoration would have made them almost impossible to imitate successfully by any means available to Western porcelain manufacturers at the time. The fact that a pair now survives adds to their rarity and value.

A related single famille rose fishbowl in the collection at Wallington House, Northumberland, is illustrated in Treasures from the National Trust, London, 2007, p.49

Bonhams. FINE CHINESE ART. London, New Bond Street. 7 Nov 2013 - www.bonhams.com