Lot 280. A fine group of five 'boneless' Famille-Rose winecups, Yongzheng marks and period. Estimate 50,000 — 70,000 USD. Lot sold 274,000 USD. Photo Sotheby's.
each delicately potted with steep rounded sides rising to a gently flaring rim, the exterior painted in soft pastel enamels with flowering blush pink peony and pale yellow prunus boughs and two vibrant butterflies fluttering above, the interior with two pale green and pink orchid blossoms, the base with a six-character mark in underglaze blue within a double circle, fitted wood stands (10) - Diameter 2 3/8 in., 6 cm
Provenance: Ralph M. Chait Galleries Inc., New York, 1980s.
Notes: These wine cups are a fine example of a painting technique known as the ‘boneless style’ in which the image is rendered through color and tone alone and does not require a defining outline. Although this method was known in painting from the Ming period, it was rarely used on porcelain decoration, most likely because it was far too complicated to produce on a mass scale. The technique was sufficiently daunting that it was employed only on porcelains of relatively small size. The subtlety of color placement and blended tones represented a great challenge to the artists as lesser-skilled painters relied on outlines to complete their sections of decoration, and if not painted correctly would leave an ill-formed confusion of color. Compare the present cups with similar examples sold in our London rooms, a pair on 12th December 1989, lot 445 and another pair on June 7th 200, lot 355.
Sotheby's. Important Chinese Works of Art, New York, 17 mars 2015, 02:00 PM