Importante gourde en porcelaine à fond bleu à décor en or et argent Dynastie Qing, époque Qianlong

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Lot 100. Importante gourde en porcelaine à fond bleu à décor en or et argent, Dynastie Qing, époque Qianlong (1736-1795). Estimation 100,000 — 150,000 €. Photo Sotheby's

de forme ronde, le corps aplati reposant sur un court pied légèrement évasé, l'épaule rehaussée de dragonschilong formant de petites anses, le col en trompette révélant un intérieur turquoise, chaque face délicatement peinte à l'or et à l'argent de cinq chauves-souris volant parmi les pêches, grenades et citrons digités (sanduo) sur fond bleu, la base non glaçurée et peinte en brun; 32 cm; 12 5/8 in.

A FINE AND RARE BLUE-GROUND GILT AND SILVER-DECORATED MOONFLASK, QING DYNASTY, QIANLONG PERIOD

ProvenanceAcquired from M. M. Tournet, Paris (active in the 1930s-1950s), by the husband of the present owner.

NotesThis flask is remarkable for its highly unusual design depicting the Three Abundances (sanduo) which has been rendered in a striking and exceptionally rare palette of gold and silver against a vivid blue ground. It is a testament to the creativity of craftsmen working during the Qianlong period in exploring and perfecting enamelling techniques to cater to the emperor’s taste for the innovative and the exotic while remaining rooted in antiquity.

The combination of a dark ground with gilt or silver may have been inspired by European enamelling techniques such as basse-taille, whereby a dark-coloured metal surface is engraved or carved in low-relief and then covered with translucent vitreous enamel. This technique dramatises the play of light and shade and also gives the object a brilliance of tone. Gilt-decorated designs were painted on a number of monochrome glazes but darker coloured monochrome glazes provided the perfect ground for the shimmering gilt-painted decoration that enhanced the luxuriousness of the porcelain-bodied ware. The rarity of painted silver on porcelains suggests that the medium may have been difficult to control. 

Flasks of similar form decorated with the Three Abundances (sanduo) are also known painted in famille-rose and doucaienamels, such as a Qianlong mark and period flask from the collection of the Tsui Museum of Art, Hong Kong, sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 8th November 1982, lot 204, and Christie’s Hong Kong, 8th October 1990, lot 525; and another from the British Rail Pension Fund, sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 16th May 1989, lot 87. A moonflask similarly freely painted with fruiting branches of persimmon, finger citrons and peaches circled by bats in a subtle palette of famille rose enamels, was sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 29th October 2000, lot ?. However, no other porcelain decorated with the same subject in gold and silver appears to have been published, although a baluster vase decorated in a similar painterly style in gilt and silver with a bird perched on a flowering prunus tree, with a Qianlong mark and of the period, from the Huaihaitang collection, was included in the exhibition Ethereal Elegance, Art Museum, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2007, cat. no. 80; and a miniature blue-ground bottle vase painted with lotus scrolls in silver and gilt, in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, was included in the Museum’s exhibition Stunning Decorative Porcelains from the Ch’ien-lung Reign, Taipei, 2008, cat. no. 26. 

Sotheby's. Arts d'Asie, Paris, 23 juin 2016, 10:30 AM