Lot 4019. An imperial Beijing enamelled waterpot, Kangxi yuzhi mark within double-squares and of the period (1662-1722); 3 7/8 in. (9.8 cm.) diamEstimate 1,000,000 - HKD 1,500,000. Price realised HKD 1,940,000© Christie's Images Ltd 2012.  

Of compressed globular form, the waterpot is brightly enamelled with four peony blossoms in tones of yellow, pink, green and aubergine, borne on leafy undulating stems bearing flower buds, against a white ground. It tapers to a flat base inscribed in blue with a four-character mark within double-circles, box.

Provenance: A French private collection.

NoteThe Kangxi Emperor first became deeply interested in the foreign imported enamelled metalwork and set up an enamel workshop inside the palace to facilitate the local production of these exotic metal-bodied wares. The enamels used to paint on metalwork during this period were mostly foreign imports, and the Kangxi Emperor even enlisted the French Jesuit missionary, Jean-Baptiste Gravereau, in 1719 to train native artisans at the enamel workshop the skills of enamelling. Many of the enamels on metal that were produced during the period were inscribed with a Kangxi Yuzhi mark, reflecting his admiration for luminous metalwork like the current example, and the miniature vase offered as the previous lot in the current sale.

The richly painted pattern on the current example, with a variety of colour gradations, attests to the advanced level of skills achieved by the palace enamellers during the Kangxi period. Compare a lobed metal box painted with similar floral decoration on white ground in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, illustrated in Enamel Ware in the Ming and Ch'ing Dynasties, Taipei, 1999, p. 172, no. 82.

Christie's. The Imperial Sale,  Hong Kong, 30 May 2012