Lot 151. A rare painted enamel miniature vase, hu, Blue enamel Qianlong four-character mark and of the period (1736-1795); 5.8cm (2 1/4in) high. Estimate HK$ 400,000-600,000. Sold for HK$ 440,000 (€ 46,809). Photo: Bonhams.
The copper body of oval section subtly enamelled with a continuous scene of two bats amidst clouds, surrounded by bamboo and lingzhi fungus, all between lappets and raised gilt borders at the shoulder and above the foot, the waisted neck with a collar of alternating large and small lappets reserved on a yellow ground, the foot and mouth encircled with a key-fret scroll, the interior turquoise, the base with a blue enamel four-character mark within a double square, the rims gilt, box.
Note: This painted miniature hu vase was probably made to fit into a treasure box, duobaoge, where small items and scholar's objects were kept and admired. Duobaoge treasure boxes were particularly favoured by the Qianlong emperor and were specially made to accommodate objects from the emperor's collections. One such example is a 'Magnificent Standards' box, Qianlong, in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, made to fit a small Western Zhou bronze wine vessel of similar form to the present lot, illustrated by Yu Pei-chin, Curio Boxes of Qianlong Emperor, Taipei, 2020, pp.37 and 45. See also a wood cabinet with eight drawers, Qianlong, containing a small painted enamel vase, 18th century, illustrated ibid., pp.91 and 94.
The present lot would have been suitable as a birthday present. The evergreen bamboo serves as a homophone of 'congratulate', whilst the lingzhi fungus and bats represent wealth and longevity. Bamboo, lingzhi fungus and bats form the homophone of ling zhu fu shou, or 'May the Immortal congratulate you on your birthday'.
Compare a related painted enamel miniature vase, Qianlong mark and period, painted with flowers and wild geese (6.3cm high), in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, illustrated in Enamel Ware in the Ming and Ch'ing Dynasties, Taipei, 1999, p.220, no.112. See also a European-subject Beijing enamel miniature hu vase, Qianlong mark and period (5.8cm high), which was sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 9 October 2007, lot 1540.
A finely painted and very rare European-subject Beijing enamel miniature vase, hu, blue enamel mark and period of Qianlong (1736-1795); 5.8cm., 2 1/4 in. Estimate 700,000 — 900,000 HKD. Lot sold 2,167,500 HKD at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 9 October 2007, lot 1540. Photo: Sotheby's.
Bonhams. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, 1 Dec 2020, Hong Kong, Admiralty