An Auspicious Qianlong Vase

Friday, March 19th 2021

The Gazette Drouot, Caroline Legrand

China, Qianlong period (1736-1795). A small four-sided pomegranate-shaped porcelain vase enameled in polychrome and gold with Famille Rose "fencai" enamels; on the underside of the base, the Qianlong six-character mark in zhuanshu, h. 20.4 cm (9.4 in).
Estimate: €200,000/300,000

This small Qianlong vase from a collection in Tours evokes the art of 18th century Chinese porcelain workshops and their painters.

With its decoration of quails, symbolizing peace, and magpies, meaning happiness, this vase was the perfect wedding gift. It was given on October 9, 1930 to Jean Richard (1905-1935) and Marie-Louise Thomassin (1906-1990) when they were married in Saint-Louis des Invalides cathedral in Paris. Both had French army officer forebears: those of the groom were General Charles-Édouard Richard (1868-1928) and Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Lecer (1839-1915), while his wife was the daughter of Captain Constant-Charles Thomassin (1875-1914). The vase then remained in their family in the Tours region.

Presented unsuccessfully for the first time at the Château d'Artigny Garden Party last October, this porcelain is trying its luck once more. Since then, however, experts have located a vase of the same period and shape—the famous pomegranate, a Buddhist symbol of prosperity and abundance—but with decoration on a pink background. This comes from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Fletcher and is now on show at the Metropolitan Museum in New York (no. 17.120.198). The model here surpasses it in terms of its considerable iconographic complexity. On each side, it features a round medallion sporting a pair of quails or magpies on rocks with flowering peonies, celestial bamboos, peach blossoms and plum and cherry trees in bloom. These scenes treated like paintings hark back to the origins of Chinese painting, for the "flowers and birds" theme evokes the Northern Song academic style, especially during the reign of Huizong (1101-1125), who especially loved poetic, naturalistic subjects. Meanwhile, the "fencai" enamels of the Famille Rose style, which appeared at the end of Kangxi's reign, arose from China's interest in European arts and exchanges between the two continents. Jesuit Jean-Baptiste Gravereau introduced Chinese ceramists to Purple of Cassius: a component particularly well-mastered by Tang Ying, director of the imperial kilns of Jingdezhen, who enjoyed the unwavering favors of the Qianlong Emperor.

Tuesday 23 March 2021 - 02:00 - Live
Vendôme - Route de Blois - 41100
Subscribe to our newsletter:
Follow us: