Lot 112. A rare cloisonné enamel model of a cockatoo and stand, 18th century. 10 in. (25.4 cm.) high overall. Estimate GBP 40,000 - GBP 60,000 (USD 52,160 - USD 78,240). Price realised GBP 93,750. © Christie's Images Ltd 2017
The cockatoo is naturalistically modelled with a lively expression, and its wings closed upon its back. The feathers of its body, wings, and tail are detailed with fine wirework. The bird sits on a T-shaped perch supported on a circular base which rests on four ruyi-shaped feet. The stand is decorated with scrolling lotus and foliage on a bright turquoise ground.
Property of a Scottish gentleman.
Note: The natural habitat of cockatoos is not China, but rather in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Australasia. From the 3rd century AD onwards however, exotic parakeets, lories, and cockatoos were sent from Indonesia and Indochina as gifts to the Chinese court, and were also imported for sale to members of the elite. In fact, a number of gifts of multi-coloured and white parrots are recorded during the Tang dynasty. Thereafter such birds became popular amongst wealthy Chinese who kept them in their homes or gardens.
The fine workmanship of the current lot is evident from the treatment of the individual feathers which have been detailed by a narrow v-shaped cloison within each one. This would have been a very labour-intensive process. The same technique can also be seen on a pair of blue doves in the Uldry Collection (illustrated by Brinker and Lutz, Op. Cit., no.324), and on the scales of a Qianlong cloisonné mythical beast in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum - Metal-bodied Enamel Ware, Hong Kong, 2002, p.123, no.119.
A very similar bird to the current lot was sold at Christie's Paris, 13 June 2007, lot 38 from the Juan Jose Amezaga collection. That bird was dated to the Qianlong period and was set within a cloisonné enamel birdcage, which provides an interesting insight as to how pieces similar to current lot could have been displayed.
A rare gilt-bronze and cloisonne enamel bird cage, China, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1795), from the Juan Jose Amezaga collection. Sold for 2,048,000 EUR at Christie's Paris, 13 June 2007, lot 38. © Christie's Images Ltd 2007