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18 février 2024

A pair of Chinese kingfisher feather, jade, hardstone and coral gilt-bronze models of trees in jardinières, 18th-19th century








Lot 6. The Collection of Adolphus Andrews, Jr. and Emily Taylor Andrews. A pair of Chinese kingfisher feather, jade, hardstone and coral gilt-bronze models of trees in jardinières, 18th-19th century; 43.2 cm high, 31.8 cm wide, 22.3 cm deep, each. Price realised USD 100,800 (Estimate USD 100,000 – USD 200,000). © Christie's 2024

Each gnarled tree bears dangling fruit and a profusion of leaves in various hardstones above an assortment of rockwork, lingzhi fungus and a blossoming shrub, and issues from a ground of crushed coral scattered on top of a rectangular gilt-metal jardinière with canted corners and raised on four bracket feet. The sides of each jardinière is decorated with scrolling foliage and set with painted enamel cartouches depicting sheep and figures within an architectural landscape.

ProvenanceJeremy Ltd., London.

Note: This sumptuous pair of jardinières and trees expresses the extravagant taste of the Qing court and the ability of Chinese craftsman to create exceptional works to meet those demands. These whimsical trees were made for viewing enjoyment, not only by the emperor but by others within the Qing court. Such works were created in the southern region of China, in Suzhou, Yangzhou, and Guangzhou. The practice of using elaborate glass paste insets used to mimic fine gems, as seen on the upper borders and framing the landscapes on the present jardinières, was utilized in Guangzhou as early as the Jin dynasty (265-420) when production was mentioned by Ge Hong in Baopuzi, Neibian. Guangzhou as a location was ideally situated for the absorption of foreign glass technology brought into China through European and Asian maritime trade (see Tributes from Guangdong to the Qing Court, Hong Kong, 1987, p. 53). Cut-glass embellishment was frequently used on other tribute objects made in Guangzhou, especially extravagant clocks, such as one illustrated by X. Yang and C. Zhou in Secret World of the Forbidden City: Splendors From China’s Imperial Palace, Bowers Museum of Cultural Art, 2000, p. 55 (see ibid., p. 54 for a mid-Qing dynasty example).

Fine materials such as jade, coral, hardstones, gold, and kingfisher feathers were also used in the creation of these luxurious objects. The kingfisher was prized for its iridescent blue feathers, which were often used to accent small, opulent articles such as headdresses, hair ornaments, and other jewelry crafted for the women of the Qing court in the 18th and 19th centuries. Even more lavish decoration is shown in the landscape panels on the sides of each jardinière, which display western cities for the enjoyment of the court. For other embellished jardinières with trees in the imperial collection, see, Gugong zhenbao, Beijing, 2004 pp. 196-202.

Christie's. The Exceptional Sale, 1 february 2024