A fine Imperial blue and white 'lança character' stem cup, Qianlong seal mark and of the period (1736-1795)

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Lot 118. A fine Imperial blue and white 'lança character' stem cup, Qianlong seal mark and of the period (1736-1795)Estimate HK$ 700,000 - 900,000 (€82,000 - 110,000). Photo: Bonhams.

The steep flaring sides vividly painted with eight evenly-spaced lança characters enclosed within undulating lotus stems issuing stylised blossoms and acanthus leaves, the underside with a frieze of tightly bound lotus lappets, all raised on a tall spreading stem foot decorated with bands of demi-flowerheads and floral sprays on a raised rib above pendent interlinked tassels issuing from ruyi-heads, the interior further painted with a stylised peony medallion within a double-line border repeated at the rim, the interior of the foot with a six-character zhuanshu seal mark in underglaze blue, fitted box. 14.7cm (5 3/4in) diam. x 13.2cm (5 1/4in) high (2).

ProvenanceSotheby's Hong Kong, 2 May 1995, lot 83
A European private collection
Christie's Hong Kong, 29 May 2007, lot 1470

NoteThe present stem cup, inspired by Tibetan butter lamps or chang ming deng, is remarkable for the superb painting in lighter and darker tones of underglaze blue, simulating the 'heaped and piled' effect of the early Ming dynasty' imported cobalt blue. Also noteworthy is its unusual large size, measuring 14.7cm diam. and 13.2cm high, in comparison to the much smaller standard size of 8.5-10cm high. 

The Qing emperors publicly supported Tibetan Buddhism which brought both political and to varying extents personal benefits, by ensuring solidarity with Mongolian and Tibetan allies and providing personal spiritual guidance. The Qianlong emperor was particularly dedicated to the practice of Tibetan Buddhism and this is reflected in many ceramics and decorative arts produced for the court and as gifts during his reign. 

Compare a similar blue and white stem cup, Qianlong seal mark and period, of similar size, illustrated by U.Wiesner, Chinesisches Porzellan: Die Ohlmer'sche Sammlung im Roemer-Museum, Hildesheim, Mainz am Rhein, 1981, pl.59. See also a slightly smaller example, illustrated in Catalogue of Ch'ing Dynasty Porcelain in the National Palace Museum, Tokyo, 1981, pl.13. Such cups were also made for the Imperial court in other materials, such as cloisonné enamel and lacquer: see a cloisonné enamel stem cup, Qianlong mark and period, illustrated in Compendium of Collections in the Palace Museum: Enamels 2 Qing Dynasty, Beijing, 2011, pl.280; and a carved cinnabar lacquer stem cup, Qianlong seal mark and period, in the Linden Museum, Stuttgart, illustrated in Im Zeichen Des Drachen von der Schönheit Chinesischer Lacke, Munich, 2006, pl.86. 

A similar blue and white 'lança character' stem cup, Qianlong seal mark and period, but of smaller size, was sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 8 October 2013, lot 3024.

fine blue and white stem cup with 'lança character', Qianlong seal mark and period (1736-1795)

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A fine blue and white stem cup with 'lança character', Qianlong seal mark and period (1736-1795). Lot sold 1,096,000 HKD at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 8 October 2013, lot 3024. Photo: Sotheby's.

 Bonhams. FINE CHINESE CERAMICS AND WORKS OF ART, 30 May 2017, 15:00 HKT, HONG KONG, ADMIRALTY