From our Chinese Polychrome Collection, a very fine Rose Medallion punch bowl, mid-late 19th century, most likely late Daoguang to Tongzhi Period circa 1845-1874, and certainly no later than Guangxu Period (1875-1908). Executed in the typical palette of pinks, blues, greens, yellows, whites, and gilt, depicting a large and well-painted panel of figures in the center well that seems to represent some scene of officialdom, along with three trapezoidal panels of figures on the bowl's interior separated by panels of birds, flowers, and butterflies. On the exterior of the bowl are three additional well-painted panels of figures, once again separated by panels of birds, flowers and butterflies.
The scenes depicted on Rose Medallion like this current example, are usually drawn from early famous Chinese literature such as The Romance of the Western Chamber, or The Dream of Red Mansions. Interestingly, however, particular individual scenes within those two novels are rarely identified with specificity. This is perhaps because of the voluminous and intricate nature of these texts, with their many characters and dozens upon dozens of subplots. The Dream of Red Mansions, for instance, has over 400 minor characters contained within the story....
Rose Medallion is probably the most ubiquitous and easily recognized antique Chinese porcelain pattern, and is usually familiar not only to novice collectors, but even non-collectors alike. What is often lost, however, in the ubiquitousness of this genre, is the fact that there is tremendous difference in the quality of these pieces. There are a lot more poor and mediocre quality pieces out there than there are good and superior quality pieces. But this punch bowl is as high quality as can be. The enamels here are lively but "soft," not "glassy" and "shiny" as many of the lesser pieces and later reproductions tend to be. The gilding is gold and not brass colored, and the people are very realistically rendered with extra attention paid to details like gilt highlights in the women's hair. A bowl like this is alluring to even the untrained eye. Another measure of quality is in the execution of the flower tendrils. Nancy Schiffer, in Chinese Export Porcelain, Standard Patterns and Forms 1780-1880, presents a very useful illustration of the varying degrees of quality in the execution of these tendrils. While her illustrations are in black and white and do not reproduce well in photographs, those with the book should take a look, page 28, plates 68-73. The execution of the flowering tendrils here is "tight" and as well done as they can be. Overall this is a superb example of its type.
Size and Condition: 12 3/4 inches in diameter, 5 1/2 inches tall. Essentially perfect condition, only the most minor wear commensurate with age. A good "orange peel" texture to the porcelain body (another indicia of age and authenticity). Good ring when tapped.
Similar bowls have sold very well in the past. See Sotheby's Sale NO1754, LOT 172, Arcade Furniture and Decorative Works of Art. March 2005, where another similar Rose Medallion punch bowl of slightly smaller size, was originally estimated at 3,000-5,000 USD, and ultimately sold for 7,200.