Lot 2606. A pair of superb 'famille-rose' blue sgraffiato-ground medallion bowls, seal marks and period of Qianlong (1736-1795); 15 cm., 5 7/8 in. Estimate 5,000,000 — 7,000,000 HKD. Lot Sold 6,020,000 HKD. Courtesy Sotheby's 2010.
each delicately potted body with deep rounded sides rising from a short straight foot to an everted rim, finely enamelled around the exterior with four medallions enclosing composite leafy floral sprays, divided by floral strapwork and all reserved on a pale blue sgraffiato scroll ground, the interior painted in rich cobalt-blue tones with a floral medallion encircled by four floral sprays in the well, the base with an underglaze blue six-character seal mark.
Provenance: Collection of Lord Loch of Drylaw (1827-1900) (?).
Collection of Alfred Morrison (1821-1897), Fonthill House, Tisbury, Wiltshire.
The Rt. Hon The Lord Margadale of Islay, T.D. (Fonthill House inventory no. 441).
Christie's London, 9th November 2004, lot 31.
Exhibited: Recent Acquisitions 2005, 80th Anniversary Catalogue, S. Marchant & Son, Ltd., London, 2005, cat. no. 49.
Note: Exquisitely enamelled with flower medallions on an ornately decorated blue ground, bowls of this design are very rare and were pioneered by artists working during the Qianlong period. Only one other Qianlong bowl of this design on a blue colour ground appears to be known, also from the Alfred Morrison Collection and Fonthill Heirlooms, sold at Christie's London, 9th November 2004, lot 27, offered together with a Daoguang example.
The sophistication of the present bowls has been achieved through the intricate sgraffiato ground and the fusion of Western painting techniques with traditional Chinese motifs. The flowers and leaves adorning the blue ground, masterfully rendered in various tones and hues to create a three-dimensional effect, reveal the influence of Jesuit artists at court. The sgraffiatotechnique first appeared in the repertoire of the Jingdezhen potters during the Qianlong period and is characteristic of yangcai, the finest porcelains made by the kilns to special imperial orders from Beijing. Commonly known as jinshang tianhua ('adding decorative pattern onto brocades'), this complicated and laborious technique involved needle-point etching the design onto a monochrome enamel ground.
Compare a pair of similarly decorated Qianlong bowls, but with a variation of the leafy scroll motif and painted with landscape medallions, in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, illustrated in Stunning Decorative Porcelains from the Ch'ien-lung Reign, Taipei, 2008, pl. 13, together with a yellow ground version, pl. 14. Further bowls of this style with various colour grounds include two bowls decorated with landscape medallions, one on a yellow ground and the other on a ruby ground, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Porcelains with Cloisonné Enamel Decoration and Famille Rose Decoration, Hong Kong, 1999, pls 103 and 104; and two ruby ground examples with medallions enclosing antiques, one sold in these rooms, 20th May 1986, lot 146, and the other sold in our New York rooms, 30th March 2006, lot 352.
Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art, 08 Oct 10 11:00 AM, Hong Kong