Figural Vase with Elephant Handles
mid-late 19th century
Tongzhi Period, Qing Dynasty
Porcelain with overglaze famille rose enamels
H: 33.7 cm D: 15 cm
Single hairline from mouth-rim, visible only in the vase's interior. Damage to glaze in a thin, short area perpendicular to hairline.
From a Laguna Beach, CA estate
Description & Notes
This vase is very typical of vessels made in the mid to late 19th century. The enameling is thick and intense, with the artistic execution detailed but albeit staid. It should be noted that whenever the central imperial government suffered weakness (as the case in the late Ming/transitional period, as well as the 19th century), the quality of imperial wares generally declined, while mingyao/folk wares tend to improve in quality. This is generally so because depletion of imperial coffers meant that craftsman at Jingdezhen invested greater effort and time to cultivate wares for domestic clients. In the case of polychrome Tongzhi period wares, many of the decorations painted feature scenes from Chinese political and military history, and is rich with drama and strife; perhaps a more romantic reflection of the pressing anxiety and misfortunes of the late 19th century Chinese empire.