Lot 84. A rare Imperial famille rose moonflask, bianhu, Qianlong seal mark and of the period(17366-1795); 21.5cm (8 1/2in) high. Estimate £100,000 - 150,000 (€120,000 - 180,000). Sold for £ 218,500 (€ 244,933). Photo Bonhams.
The flattened circular body exquisitely enamelled on each side with an iron-red bat in flight above three peaches issuing from a flowering foliate branch on the raised centre boss, flanked by two energetic pink-scaled confronted five-clawed dragons between lotus blossoms at the top and bottom and all amid flowering foliate scrolls, the sides also with flowering sprays beneath the reticulated handles each shaped as a chilong enamelled in iron-red and highlighted with gilt, the flaring neck with a famille rose double-peony flower on each side, the spreading foot with downwards lappets.
Provenance: a European private collection, acquired in China by the great-grandfather of the present owner in the very early 20th century, and thence by descent within the family
Note: The present vase is extremely rare and no other vase of this particular form and design appears to have been published.
The small, well balanced, proportions, with the vase measuring only 21.5cm high, enhance the elegant form and contribute to the powerful impact of the enamelled design. Most striking is the central circular boss, superbly enamelled with a leafy spray of three ripe peaches with an iron-red bat in flight above the auspicious fruit, representing the blessing for longevity to be endowed on the owner. The central medallion is framed by two confronted five-clawed dragons flanking two lotus blossoms. The dragon is perhaps the most important motif in the repertoire of the Chinese potter and artist. It represents the Emperor and is the symbol of Imperial power. The lotus, one of the Eight Buddhist Emblems, further represents longevity, nobility, purity and harmony. The neck decorated with peony, associated with royalty, wealth and honour, is flanked by a pair of chi dragons.
The decorative scheme on the moonflask is a testament to the best porcelain production achieved during the Qianlong period. It would have required four stages of firing, successfully combining underglaze blue and overglaze enamels and gilt. See a famille rose vase, Qianlong seal mark and period, from the Qing Court Collection, demonstrating a similar colour scheme, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Porcelains with Cloisonne Enamel Decoration and Famille Rose Decoration, Hong Kong, 1999, pl.95. For a related doucai and famille rose vase, Qianlong seal mark and period, from the Qing Court Collection, decorated with a pair of chi dragons flanking a lotus blossom, see The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Porcelains in Polychrome and Contrasting Colours, Hong Kong, 1999, pl.245.
Bonhams. FINE CHINESE ART. London, New Bond Street, 15 May 2014