Cloisonné and Gilt Gold on Bronze
Qianlong Period 大清乾隆年制 (AD 1736-1795)
Diameter: 12.75 inches
This spectacular pair of cloisonné bowls with a gilt gold dragon is a fine example of the work done for the Imperial court during the Qianlong period. The bowls are rendered from bronze decorated with cloisonné enamels and gilding. A powerfully rendered full face dragon vividly fills the center panel of each bowl and is depicted with the Imperial five claws surrounded by four dragons in flight. The dragon (long 龍) is one of the four divine animals (siling 四靈) which symbolizes power and fertility, often adorning the robes of emperors and princes. The reverse side shows dragons in flight surrounding the outer edge on a background of clouds (ruyiyun 如意雲) which symbolize the granting of all wishes. The underside center panel depicts six auspicious flowers (baoxianghua 寶相花). There is a raised four character Qianlong mark surrounded by a raised square cartouche.
In cloisonné, patterns formed by thin metal strips soldered onto the body surface are filled with enamel pastes and fired. After fusion, any gaps between the enamels and the metal strips are pointed with additional pastes and the piece is refired – a process repeated several times to achieve perfection. Repeated polishing renders the surface even and smooth. In the next phase, metal accessories are attached and finally the exposed metal surfaces are gold plated.
Cloisonné technical brilliance reached it zenith in the Qianlong period. Smoothly curved cloisons, rich gilding, and purity and variety of colors are all qualities evident in this pair of Imperial bowls. In our opinion, this pair of bowls embodies the subject matter and workmanship of the mastery of the art of cloisonné during the Qianlong period.
Reference Number: 3754
For additional information regarding Chinese Cloisonne of the period, see the following reference works:
Brinker, Helmut and Lutz, Albert. Chinese Cloisonne, The Pierre Uldery Collection. Zurich. Die Sammlung Pierre Uldry, Rietberg Musceum. 1989. 395 pages. 381 b/w with 58 full color plates. 9.25″ x 10″
Chen, Hsia-Sheng. Enamel Ware in the Ming and Ch’ing Dynasties. Taipei. National Palace Museum. 1999. 290 pages. 164 full color plates w/descriptions. 8.5″ x 12″
The outstanding collection of enamel ware of the Ming & Qing dynasties in the National Palace Museum, Taipei. Excellent photography. Captions in English & Chinese Text.
Hyde, J.A. Lloyd. Chinese Painted Enamels. New York. China Institute in America. 1970. 48 pages. 71 b/w plates w/descriptions, chronology. 7-7/8″ x 9″
Jenyns, R. Soame & Watson, William. Chinese Art 2, Gold-Silver-Later Bronze-Cloisonne-Cantonese Enamel-Lacquer-Furniture-Wood. New York. Rizzoli International Publications, Inc. 1980. 277 pages. 211 full color & b/w plates. 21.3 cm x 27 cm.
Lin, Pe-yu. Chinese Incense Burners, Collection of Steven Hung & Lindy Chen. Taipei. National Museum of History. 2000. 246 pages. 224 full color plates w/descriptions, chronology. 8.5″ x 11.75″.
The Palace Museum of China. Selected Handicrafts From the Palace Museum. Peking. Wen Wu Press Company. 1974. 105 pages. 100 full color illustrations. 9.5″ x 10.5″
Contains illustrations of later former imperial objects contained in the Palace Museum, Peking. Text in Chinese with English.
The Palace Museum of China. Selected Handicrafts From the Palace Museum. Peking. Wen Wu Press Company. 1974. 105 pages. 65 b/w plates, footnotes and bibliography. 9.5″ x 10.5″. Contains illustrations of later former imperial objects contained in the Palace Museum, Peking. Text in Chinese with English.
Yang, Boda. Gongyi Meishu Bian 10: Jinyin Boli Falang Qi. Beijng. Wen Wu Press. 1987. 117 pages. 366 full color with b/w plates. 22.5 cm x 29 cm
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