Lot 74. A very rare Imperial ruby-enamelled tea bowl, Yongzheng four-character mark and of the period (1723-1735); 9.8cm (3 7/8in) diam. Estimate: HK$500,000.00 - HK$800,000.00 (€ 56,000 - 89,000). © Bonhams.
Exquisitely and thinly potted with steep rounded sides rising to an elegantly everted rim supported on a short straight foot, the exterior covered overall with a lustrous enamel of vibrant ruby-pink tone, the underside inscribed with an underglaze blue four-character mark enclosed within a double square.
Provenance: Baron John Henry Hambro (1904-1965), and thence by descent.
John H. Hambro (1904-1965) was Chairman of Hambros Bank PLC, 1963-1965. The Hambro banking dynasty traces its descent from Calmer Levy, a Jewish merchant of Hamburg who moved to Copenhagen in 1778 to marry a cousin and take over her father's trading business. Following Danish custom, Calmer wanted to adopt the name of his native town, but it was mis-spelt on the tradesman's licence issued to him by the Copenhagen authorities, and became Hambro. Calmer's grandson, Carl Joachim, established a banking business in London in 1839, which flourished, particularly in financing trade with Scandinavia. For further family history see B.Bramsen and K.Wain, The Hambros 1779 - 1979, London, 1979.
Note: The form of the present lot with its very thin walls and rich lustrous enamel, demanded the highest level of technical skill and precision at every stage of its manufacture to avoid the slightest defect in the potting, firing or enamelling.
Compare with a similar ruby-pink bowl, Yongzheng four-character mark and of the period, from the Zhuyuetang Collection, illustrated in A Millenium of Monochromes from the Great Tang to the High Qing: The Baur and the Zhuyuetang Collections, Milan, 2018, pp.272-273, no.120. A pair of shallower pink enamelled cups, Yongzheng six-character marks and of the period, is illustrated in The Tsui Museum of Art, vol.IV, Hong Kong, 1991, pl.25. Another Yongzheng six-character mark and period pair of cups, enamelled with scattered prunus blossoms in the interiors, is illustrated in Qing Imperial Monochromes: The Zande Lou Collection, Hong Kong, 2005, pp.66-67, no.16, where it is mentioned that the ruby-pink colour was one of the favorites of the Imperial household.
See also a similar ruby-enamelled cup, Yongzheng six-character mark and of the period, which was sold at Sotheby's New York, 15 September 2015, lot 82.
Bonhams. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, Hong Kong 27 november 2018.