A pair of brilliantly enamelled famille-rose 'Bajixiang' vases, gu, seal marks and period of Qianlong

Lot 3707. A pair of brilliantly enamelled famille-rose 'Bajixiang' vases, gu, seal marks and period of Qianlong (1736-1795)23.2 cm., 9 1/8  inEstimate 1,200,000 — 1,400,000 HKD. Lot sold 2,240,000 HKD (266,244 EUR)© Sotheby's

each of archaistic gu form, finely modelled with a trumpet neck resting above a central bulb and a bell-shaped foot, the gilt-rimmed flared neck decorated with four of the bajixiang emblems interspersed with leafy lotus scrolls between a band of ruyi-heads and an upright border of plantain leaves, all above a narrow cylindrical band enclosing a key-fret border and an iron-red six-character seal mark within a rectangular cartouche, the central bulb enamelled with further lotus blooms borne on scrolling foliage between a pendent trefoil border and an upright lotus lappet band, above a further short narrow band of floral scrolls, all supported on the high bell-shaped foot enamelled with the four remaining bajixiang emblems interspersed with further lotus scrolls between a ruyi-head border and a key-fret band, all delicately picked out in shades of rose pink, yellow, green, iron-red and turquoise, the registers divided by thin gilt protruding fillets, the interiors of the neck and foot enamelled in turquoise.

Note: A devout Buddhist and practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism, the Qianlong Emperor commissioned the furnishing of the Buddhist temples and ancestral halls with ritual vessels made from the finest materials, including cloisonné enamel, bronze and porcelain. Vases of this form belong to this group of ritual wares, which were produced in a range of colour palettes and sizes, and sometimes as part of a group of five altar garnitures. The present vases are particularly notable for the famille-rose palette on a white ground. Compare a similarly decorated vase of larger size, sold in these rooms, 30th April 1996, lot 500.

Vases of this type are more commonly decorated on a coloured ground; a yellow ground example, from the Nanjing Museum, was included in the exhibition Qing Imperial Porcelain, Art Gallery, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1995, cat. no. 95; a coral ground example was sold in these rooms, 8th October 2006, lot 1123; a ruby-ground version was sold in our London rooms, 13th July 2005, lot 267; a pair of pink-ground vases, was sold in our London rooms, 1th June 1991, lot 218, and again at Christie’s Hong Kong, 28th October 2002, lot 733; and a light-blue ground example was sold in our London rooms, 9th November 2005, lot 314.

Compare also a complete set of altar garnitures with related designs which include two gu vases, decorated in doucai enamels, recently sold in these rooms, 4th April 2012, lot 50, from the Meiyintang collection; and another set, presented by Lord Kitchener to Sir Thomas Hohler, sold twice in our London rooms, 17th December 1980, lot 677, and again, 11th May 2011, lot 230.

Sotheby's. Important Chinese Works of Art, Hong Kong, 07 april 2015