A turquoise-ground famille rose 'five boys' vase, Qianlong six-character seal mark in iron-red and of the period (1736-1795)

Lot 78. A turquoise-ground famille rose 'five boys' vase, Qianlong six-character seal mark in iron-red and of the period (1736-1795). Estimate £300,000 – £500,000 ($436,800 - $728,000). Photo Christie's Image Ltd 2016.

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The vase is elaborately decorated with bats, eternal knots, peaches and multi-coloured lotus sprays, set against a bright turquoise ground. The mouth is encircled by a ruyi border and a band of classic scroll. The short foot is decorated with lappets and a key-fret band. The shoulder is moulded with two young boys, one holding a ruyi sceptre and the other holding a gold ingot. Three further boys are depicted to one side, climbing onto the vase. 12 ½ in. (31.8 cm.) high 

Provenance: Pescheteau-Badin, Paris, 28 March 2014, lot 170. 

NotesThe depiction of five boys on the present vase is particularly auspicious, as it signifies the saying wu zi deng ke, referring to the supreme achievement of one family whose five sons passed the civil service examination. The vase is also an auspicious symbol, as the word for vase, ping, contains the homophone for the word for peace, ping an.

Several examples of famille rose vessels applied with figures from the Qianlong period are known, including a Qianlong underglaze-blue seal mark and period white ground famille rose vase moulded with three boys from the Qing Court Collection in the Palace Museum in Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum - 39 - Porcelains with Cloisonne Enamel Decoration and Famille Rose Decoration, Hong Kong, 1999, p. 158, pl. 140. A turquoise-ground famille rose vase decorated with colourful floral roundels and moulded with seven boys from the collection of Mr. M. D. Ezekiel (d. 1927), with an iron-red Qianlong seal mark and of the period, is illustrated by Hobson in The Later Ceramic Wares of China, London, 1925, pl. LX, fig. 2, and was later sold at Christies London on 18 March 1930 lot 73, then again at Christie’s London on 12 December 1977, lot 211, and subsequently at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 29 November 1978, lot 318.

Christie's. INSPIRED THEMES: A FINE SELECTION OF CHINESE WORKS OF ART, 10 May 2016, London, King Street