Property of a Northern European aristocratic family
A Very Rare and Magnificent Blue and White Moonflask, of compressed globular form, finely painted in rich cobalt-blue tones imitating 15th century style with the Eight BuddhistTreasures (bajixiang) within stylized lotus petals.
The Qianlong Emperor was a great connoisseur and avid collector of art and antiques. He was highly fascinated by his predecessors and the objects surrounding them. Archaism had been appreciated for a long period but during the Qianlong regime the interest flourished. The inspiration from the supportive and engaged Emperor combined with the technical skill and the outstanding artistry of the craftsmen at the imperial kilns resulted in exquisite and impressive porcelain pieces.
Stockholms Auktionsverk has the great pleasure to introduce this magnificent and superb moonflask, with the seal mark of Qianlong and of the period (1736-1795). The characteristics typical of the finest porcelain items executed for the Qianlong Emperor. The shape of the moonflask has clear links with the past. During the Han and Tang dynasties similar objects where made of leather, bronze and ceramic materials, which were used to contain wine. The elephant-head handles are also inspired by archaic decoration from the Bronze Age.
The 'moon' form had a renaissance during the beginning of the Ming Dynasty, with influences from Syria, Iran and Egypt, where we find similar forms in perfume sprinklers of glass.
In the 18th century, the moonflask was re-established as an imperial favourite. Craftsmen tried to surpass each other by increasing the size of the flask despite the difficulty of firing such a piece successfully. There would have have been many kiln failures in order to produce the current large and perfect moonflask.
It's easy to picture the proud artist that executed this masterpiece. The moonflask has everything the Emperor wished for: an exceptional size (49.5 cm), a fascinating archaic form, a rich cobalt blue colour, a bright white porcelain and a refined decoration with symbolic value.
The shape of the moonflask is elegant and well balanced. The decoration is accurate and of high quality. The message is distinct with the Eight Buddhist Treasures, for example: the fishes representing conjugal happiness and freedom, the endless knot stands for eternal life and the lotus flower representing purity and enlightenment. These symbols are even today vivid in China. This moonflask is not only a precious object it is also a carrier of an important message.
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