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Lot 116. A very rare cloisonné enamel and gilt-bronze tripod incense burner, ding, 15th century; 21.5cm (8 7/16cm) high. Sold for £88,500 (Estimate £60,000-£80,000). © Bonhams 2001-2022

The robustly cast body of globular form supported on three short legs, exterior brightly enamelled in yellow, white, red, and dark blue with large lotus blossoms in two registers amidst leafy scrolls, repeated along the neck, the gilt-bronze rim applied with a pair of flaring upright handles with similar design, all reserved on a turquoise ground.

NoteThe present lot is extremely rare, particularly for its shape and early date. It is also notable for its solid casting and sophisticated lotus design. With the tall flaring neck and globular body, in some respects it is similar to a zhadou. However, the rounded base means that it had to be supported on three feet rather than a circular foot ring typical of zhadou. The stylised elephantine feet are also unusual. Compare with a cloisonné enamel incense burner with related feet, mid Ming dynasty, in the Qing Court Collection, illustrated in The Compendium of Collections of the Palace Museum: Enamels, 1, Beijing, 2011, p.157, no.72.

Compare the lotus designs on the present lot to those on three cloisonné enamel incense burners with interlocking lotus designs, early Ming dynasty, in the Qing Court Collection, and illustrated in Compendium of Collections in the Palace Museum: Enamels, 1, Beijing, 2011, pp.92-93, nos.25-27; and also a cloisonné enamel incense burner with lion handles, and related lotus design, early Ming dynasty, illustrated in ibid., no.36. Compare also the lotus with that on a cloisonné enamel vase, Jingtai mark and of the period, in the British Museum, London, illustrated by R.Soame Jenyns and W.Watson, Chinese Art: Gold, Silver, Later Bronzes, Cloisonné, Cantonese Enamel, Lacquer, Furniture, Wood, Oxford, 1980, no.73.

Compare also the S-shape handles with those on a cloisonné enamel incense burner, Yuan/early Ming dynasty, illustrated by B.Quette, Cloisonné: Chinese Enamels from the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties, London and New York, 2011, p.229, no.11, where the author notes that 'the shape of the handles is characteristic of the early Ming dynasties'.

Bonhams. FINE CHINESE ART, 3 November 2022, London, New Bond Street