Lot 259. A famille rose-decorated lime-green graviata-ground rectangular box and cover, Qianlong six-character seal mark in iron red in a line and of the period (1736-1795);5 7/8 in. (15 cm.) long. Estimate: USD 10,000 - USD 15,000. Price realised USD 278,500. © Christie's Images Ltd 2008.
With indented corners, the slightly domed cover decorated in the center with a panel enclosing two female immortals and a deer standing in a landscape surrounded by a narrow raised border and an outer field of butterflies in flight amidst scattered flowers reserved on a pale lime-green graviata ground, repeated on the sides of the box raised on bracket feet, the base also covered with the graviata lime-green ground surrounding the mark written in a line on a white panel, the interior enameled in turquoise, box.
Note: The use of background enamel colors with a scrolling, lattice or leiwendesign incised through the enamel before firing, came to prominence on fine enamel porcelains during the Qianlong reign. The colors of these graviata enamels varied, with deep pink or ruby pink, blue and yellow being amongst the most frequently seen. One can see a ruby pink and a blue graviata ground on a vase with cover with Qianlong mark that is molded in the form of two adjoined vases, illustrated in Kangxi, Yongzheng, Qianlong: Porcelain from the Palace Museum Collection, Hong Kong, 1989, p. 378, no. 59.
The pale lime-green enamel graviata ground of the present box is far more unusual, and the decoration of butterflies reserved on the ground is also rare. Butterflies combined with scattered flowers symbolizes joy, love and good fortune. This same auspicious motif can be seen in larger format reserved on a pink graviata ground on a Qianlong vase formerly in the collection of John Morrison, Fontill House, England, illustrated by S. Jenyns, Later Chinese Porcelain, London, 1951, pl. CVI (2), and now the property of the Ping Y. Tai Foundation to be sold in our Hong Kong rooms in December.
Christie's. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art. 17 September 2008. New York, Rockefeller Plaza.