Lime Green Ground Famille Rose Sgraffito Baluster Jar (QLG101201)
ca. 1790-1820, late 18th - early 19th century
Late Qianlong - Jiaqing Period, Qing Dynasty
Porcelain with overglaze famille rose enamels
Height: 41 cm / 16.1 in
Width: 26 cm / 10.2 in (at widest point)
Weight: 6kg / 13.4 lb (most of this weight is from the bronze ormolu mounts)
From a Belgian private collection
A magnificent late Qianlong - Jiaqing period baluster jar vase, mounted in 19th century French ormolu gilt bronze, and decorated with famille rose floral sprigs against a lime green sgraffito ground. Both sides of the vase feature famille rose images of aristocratic "boys at play" set within ogival cartouches.
The vase's lime-green ground is produced from a low-fired enamel rather than a glaze. Potters would have had to fire the piece three times: first, the vase would have been covered with a thick, opaque white glaze and fired at a high temperature; then the piece would be enameled in lime-green, and added with swirling patterns using the scraffito method, before firing in a low temperature kiln; finally the famille rose flowers and boys at play would be added and fired once again at a low temperature.
Lime-green (so called 'qiu kui' green by Chinese scholars) is one of the more rare enamels to come out of Jingdezhen workshops in the early 18th century. Potters mixed lead-antimonate with copper to produce this electric, daring green. In many ways it represents the technical and innovative powers of 18th century Jingdezhen kilns.
The swirling sgraffito texture seen against the surface of this vase is another technical tour-de-force. The potter-decorator would have had to carve out the designs using a fine needle-point by hand, without the aid of stencils or repetitive machinery. Given the large surface area of this vase, it must have taken time and patience (as well as supreme powers of concentration!).
Pieces with famille rose enamels against a sgraffito lime-green ground have done very well in auctions. In 2013, a vase sold for $36,000 at Bonhams London (lot 79 sale 20579). Also in 2013, a simple 11-inch vase sold for $40,000 at Bonhams London (lot 177 sale 20580). In 2011, another similar vase sold for $60,000 at Christie's London (lot 292 sale 7964).
Condition: Ormolu mounted; base and mouth rim covered by 19th c French gilt bronze. A flat 0.3 x 1 cm chip to foot rim, along with some fleabites. One hairline to body (see pictures). [Please examine all photos carefully, as they are part of the condition report.]