Qianlong Ch’ien-Lung

I recently came across, what I think are two very fine #Chinese vases. They are not very large, standing only 5 5/8″ (142mm) and 2 1/8″ (54mm) in diameter. Often, I see pieces which are, for me, poorly painted – feel wrong in weight and shape but this pair seemed to tick the right boxes for me.

Both vases bear a seal on the base which reads #qianlong nian zhi ch’ien-lung. This mark was used from 1736-1795. Different styles of this seal were used. The seal might be written underneath the glaze in cobalt blue, or atop the glaze in various enamels (iron red, pale blue, or black). It may even be written in gilt, incised or impressed into the base.

The #Qianlong Emperor was the sixth ruler of the Qing dynasty. He was a man who was fascinated with collecting and preserving the Confucian culture. He did this by using any means necessary to acquire the great private collections and integrate these treasures into the imperial collection. The emperor’s demand for truly high quality porcelain (both artistic and utile) meant that the Qianlong period was the epitome of pottery creation in China.

Both vases feature horses galloping and cavorting amidst trees and flowering shrubs. They, also display a verse of poetry with a poets seal. I find the skill in the use of the enamels to be quite fine and the colouring and shading to be very expertly executed.

Items like these were also made or copied during a period from 1911 to 1949 (called the Republic era). I am not qualified to say which but often the copies quality of artwork is lacking. Whether they are old or more recent they remain two small but very beautiful vases.

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