Lot 35. A rare large cloisonné enamel 'fish' basin, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1795); 62 cm, 24 3/8  in. Estimate £150,000 - £200,000. Unsold. Courtesy Sotheby's.

the deep flaring sides rising from a flat base to an everted gilt keyfret rim, decorated to the interior with brightly enamelled carp, small fish, toads and crustaceans swimming amidst aquatic plants, all reserved against a rich turquoise-blue ground, the exterior decorated with a herd of deer and a flock of cranes in a rocky landscape, the base with florets reserved on a rich dark-blue ground.

Provenance: An American private collection.
Sotheby's New York, 1st/2nd December 1992, lot 167.
The Mandel Collection.
Christie's Hong Kong, 30th May 2012, lot 3910.
Exhibited: High Museum, Atlanta, Georgia, exhibited on loan 1973-1992.
Norton Museum of Art, Palm Beach, Florida, exhibited on loan, 2007-2012.

Note: né enamel during the Qianlong period (r. 1736-1795). During his reign, the palette was expanded to more than twenty opaque colours, enabling craftsmen to compose lavish and visually appealing designs, as seen on the present vessel. The clever use of the gilt bronze cloisons in depicting the waters and clouds endows a further sense of lavishness while emphasising the lively movements of the brightly enamelled fish.

Compare a closely related example in the Pierre Uldry collection, included in the exhibition Chinesisches Cloisonné. Die Sammlung Pierre Uldry, Rietberg Museum, Zurich, 1985, cat. no. 322; two sold at Christie’s Paris, one from the Juan Jose Amezaga et Maria Dolores Feijoo collection, 7th December 2007, lot 38, and the other,  9th June 2015, lot 58; another sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 30th May 2018, lot 3039; and a fifth example, sold at Christie’s London, 5th December 1994, lot 258. See also a related basin, but the exterior predominantly decorated in white, from the Avery Brundage collection and now in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, San Francisco, included in the exhibition Cloisonné. Chinese Enamels from the Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties, the Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture, New York, 2011, cat. no. 113; and another from the C. Ruxton and Audrey B. Love collection, sold at Christie’s New York, 20th October 2004, lot 611.

A rare and large gilt-bronze and cloisonné enamel fish basin, China, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1795)

From the Juan Jose Amezaga. A rare and large gilt-bronze and cloisonné enamel fish basin, China, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1795). Hauteur: 26,3 cm. (10 3/8 in.), Diamètre: 63,8 cm. (25 1/8 in.). Sold for 288,250 EUR at Christie’s Paris, 7th December 2007, lot 38© Christie's Images Ltd 2007

A rare large cloisonné enamel fish basin, China, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1795)

From the Maria Dolores Feijoo collection. A rare large cloisonné enamel fish basin, China, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1795);  25 in. (63.5 cm.) diam. Sold for 229,500 EUR at Christie’s Paris, 9th June 2015, lot 58. © Christie's Images Ltd 2015

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A rare large cloisonné enamel fish basin, Qianlong period (1736-1795); 24 3/8 in. (62 cm.) diam. Sold for 2,000,000 HKD at Christie’s Hong Kong, 30th May 2018, lot 3039.  © Christie's Images Ltd 2018

The dazzling scenes on the present vessel are rich in auspicious symbolism. The idyllic landscapes on the exterior depicting cranes (lu), deer (he), and gnarled pine trees, all popular emblems of long life, create the phrase helu tongchun (May husband and wife enjoy longevity together); while the interior scene of boldly coloured fish (yu), a symbol of abundance, swimming in water (shui) form the rebus yushui hexie (May you be as harmonious as fish and water).

Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art. London, 07 nov. 2018, 10:30 AM