A very rare famille rose 'Dutch Toper' spirit barrel

Lot 299. A very rare famille rose 'Dutch Toper' spirit barrel, Qianlong period (1736-1795). Sold for £25,000 (€32,464). Photo: Bonhams.


Finely modelled as a seated Bacchanalian drinker, with cheerful expression between curly locks beneath a tricorn hat with lid, his hands holding his round belly as he merrily chuckles, the jacket with gold buttons and trousers finely decorated with distinctively Chinese designs of bamboo, butterflies and prunus, his seat decorated with auspicious bats among ruyi-head clouds, a round handle attached to his back and European metal tap issuing from the front of his seat. 34.5cm (13 1/2in) high 

NotesIt is extremely rare to find Chinese examples of cisterns modelled after European table fountains made in the 18th century. Spirit dispensing cisterns modelled as 'topers' or drinkers, were produced in Delft, Brussels, and at Rouen, France. The English 'Toby jug' was also related. 

For a similar Chinese famille rose spirit barrel next to the Delft original, see D.Howard and J.Ayers, China for the West: Chinese Porcelain and other Decorative Arts for Export illustrated from the Mottahedeh Collection, New York, 1978, p.620, where the author comments that 'Bacchic figures seated on barrels used as spirit flasks were also typical of Delft and other north European potteries of this time (they were even copied in Japanese porcelain), and this development can be traced back to the time of the Renaissance.'