Lot 238, an attractive, Chinese Famille Rose ‘Rockefeller’ pattern part-service consists of 62 pieces, each enamelled with a different central scene of figures at leisure on terraces, in pavilion interiors and in rocky riverscapes.
The group of wares formed part of a larger service sold in Dublin, 16th October 1934: Catalogue of the valuable contents of Kilmoroney, Athy, Co. Kildare, by direction of Sir Anthony Weldon, Bart. At the time the service was described as a ‘Very important dinner and desert service of Oriental porcelain…depicting domestic life, amusements and occupations of the Chinese’. The design is loosely known as ‘Rockefeller’ pattern or ‘Palace’ ware as a very handsome and extensive service of this pattern was once owned by John D Rockefeller Jnr, the distinguished American collector. Americans also call similar wares ‘Palace ware’ – a term used by a generation of buyers in New York, Boston and Philadelphia in the 1930s.
This small Chinese Famille Rose turquoise-ground brush pot bears a Qianlong six-character seal mark in iron-red of the period. Its sides are decorated in relief with raised panels of figures and pavillions on a ‘snake skin’ ground with raised florets.
Lots 156-167 come from the Collection of the author Mrs J.C. Cooper (1905-1999). J.C. Cooper was the daughter of a Director of the Chinese Inland Mission, she was born in northern China and went to school in both China and England, before studying Philosophy at St. Andrews University, Scotland. She became a lecturer in Philosophy, Comparative Religion and Symbolism and her later years were spent as an author writing from her remote home in the Lake District. She wrote An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols and Taoism: The Way of the Mystic, amongst other books. During her childhood travels, the family collected many Chinese artefacts, including this group of costumes.
In the robe showing here, nine five-clawed dragons chase the pearl of wisdom and the clouds are interspersed with gold shou long life symbols. It features original horse-shoe shaped cuffs, a neck band of running dragons and the famous aniline purple thread – a statement of the later Qing court and worn by a high rank Mandarin of the court.
Lot 196, from a Private English Collection, is a Chinese lacquered bamboo brise fan, Qing Dynasty, Macao, circa 1860. It is painted on both sides in colours with figures and flowering peony on black ground.
The collection consists of seventeen fans in total, some of which were on exhibition at Marble Hill House, Twickenham, London, in 2006.
Spectacular silver furniture in a hybrid European-Indian style reached the height of popularity amongst the ruling classes of India during the era of the Victorian Raj. Beds in the Western sense did not exist in India before the arrival of the Europeans as the majority of people used little more than a cotton mat, a carpet or a four legged structure, known as a charpoy and used widely across the social classes in India. However, the tradition of silver-sheet covered wood furniture was known throughout India for at least 500 years. It became particularly popular in the Rajput courts under the East India Company and then British influence; often copying Western forms with various degree of accuracy, and by the mid to late 19th century had become very popular in the royal courts of Rajasthan.
Lots 18-22, depicting domestic and garden scenes and dating from the 19th century, come from a Private English Collection. Chinese landscapes and garden scenes, painted in oli on canvas, (as four of these lots are), were very popular from late 18th century and throughout the 19th century. A large number of oil paintings showing the Chinese in various phases of domestic and social life were painted for export. Popular themes were tea drinking, ladies being attended and dressed by servants, card playing, lute playing, games and garden parties. Lot 18, by Circle of Youqua (fl.1840-1880) depicts three men playing Go in a Chinese garden with two women in an open two-tier pavilion, there is an extremely fine level of detail in the plants, shrubs and trees in the scene.
Having little opportunity to observe the Chinese at home, Western traders enjoyed having a fragment of the Chinese way of life permanently recorded in the paintings they purchased to take to the West. Also, the exotic was an important decorative theme in European and American décor in the late 18th and 19th centuries.
Gouaches for the export market were even more avidly purchased by Americans and Europeans because of their convenient size and relatively low price. Subjects such as the growing and processing of tea, as shown in this work, were immensely popular as they explained to the Westerner, in a glamorous and somewhat unrealistic manner, the making of products sent to and familiar in the West.
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