An exceptionally rare famille rose faceted pear-shaped vase, Qianlong six-character seal mark in iron red and of the period (1736-1795). Estimate 600,000 – $800,000. Photo Christie's Image Ltd 2015
Of rectangular section, the vase is decorated on two wide facets of the bombé body with a quatrefoil panel, enclosing a vignette of peony, crabapple and begonia growing amidst blue rocks on one side, and on the reverse with chrysanthemum, wanshouju and balsam also growing amidst blue rocks, all within gilt borders and against a turquoise ground richly decorated with composite flower scroll on all sides including, on the main sides, a leafy stem of three peaches rising from a lotus pod in the center of a lotus blossom positioned below a pink bat suspending a chime on the neck between a pair of handles in the form of iron-red bats grasping ruyi in their mouths on the narrow sides. A narrow ruyi border is below the mouth rim, and a band of pendent leaf tips decorates the foot. The interior and base are also enameled in turquoise. 11 in. (28 cm.) high, wood stand
Provenance: Acquired in Paris in the 1880s, and thence by descent within the family.
Notes: This exquisitely painted vase is a fine representation of the skill of the enamel painters at the Imperial kilns during the Qianlong period. The decoration represents abundant auspicious wishes, making it an appropriate gift for a birthday or a wedding.
The flowers depicted in the two panels represent flowers found during two seasons, Spring and Autumn, and also have auspicious meanings. The panel painted with peony, crabapple and begonia represents Spring, as all of the flowers bloom at the same time. According to T. T. Bartholomew in Hidden Meanings in Chinese Art, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 2006, p. 137, no. 6.6.1, the combination of crabapple (haitang) and peony (fuguihua) conveys the wishes, "May the entire family be wealthy and honored" (mantang fugui). The flowers depicted in the other panel, chrysanthemum, wanshouju and amaranth, also bloom together and represent Autumn. Chrysanthemum (juhua) is a symbol of longevity, and wanshouju, which is a long-stemmed marigold and of either yellow or orange color, resembles the chrysanthemum, and its name translates as "chrysanthemum of ten thousand longevities". Bartholomew notes, op. cit., p. 197, no. 7.38, that it was "used during the Qing dynasty as a pictorial pun to wish the emperor a long life of ten thousand years." The surrounding scroll decoration also contains wishes for blessings and longevity.
Christie’s. FINE CHINESE CERAMICS AND WORKS OF ART, 17 - 18 September 2015, New York, Rockefeller Plaza