A famille rose ‘hundred boys’ vase, Jiaqing seal mark and of the period. Sold for HK$ 875,000 (€91,879). Photo Bonhams.
Superbly enamelled in brilliant famille rose colours of pink, lavender, blue, green, yellow, and red on a vivid turquoise ground, the body decorated with a continuous celebratory scene featuring a multitude of boys, two officials on horseback crossing the ruyi qiao accompanied by attendants holding parasols and a large entourage holding lanterns in various forms including lotus blossom, carp, elephant and Buddhist lion, warmly greeted by an awaiting crowd under the taiping tianxia gates, playing cymbals, blowing trumpets, alighting fire-crackers, playing drum and gong, all enclosed within bands of keyfret scrolls and lotus lappets at the foot and ruyi-heads at the shoulders, the neck further enriched with scrolling flowering lotus and two gilt-decorated shoucharacters, ending with another another band of ruyi-head frieze tucked under the trumpet rim, the base with a six-character zhuanshu seal mark. 33.5cm (13 1/4in) high
Notes: The depiction of a multitude of boys at play, the festive theme of ‘a hundred boys’, presents the auspicious wish for many sons. This motif is frequently seen in Chinese art, and was particularly popular on famille rose wares during the Qianlong reign and naturally continued in subsequent reigns. Many vases were depicted with variations of boys at play within courtyards, gardens, dragon boats, and other settings. Examples of various shaped Qianlong period vases with the ‘Hundred Boys’ decorative theme are illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Porcelains with Cloisonne Enamel Decoration and Famille Rose Decoration, Hong Kong, 1999, pls.121, 128 and 132. These Qianlong vases were likely the inspiration for ensuing vases from the late Qing period with the same theme.
The present vase is a fine example of the continued skill and abilities of ceramic decorators in the late 18th and early 19th century. This is demonstrated in the intricate representation of the many figures, each boy in his various pursuit, carefully detailed with different clothing and affects. The present lot is also unusual in depicting a gate that includes the phrases Zhuangyuan, Tianxia taiping, and Jidi. The phrase Zhuangyuan refers to the title given to the highest scores in the imperial jinshi examination, ‘Tianxia taiping‘ means universal peace, and jidi means to pass an imperial examination. Given that a successful pass at the civil service examination was required for a prosperous career in government, the phrases and their meanings make the vase especially auspicious.
Compare a smaller vase of similar but slightly more slender shape, the neck with a coloured ground and lotus scrolls, Daoguang seal mark and period, decorated with a hundred boys celebrating the Dragon Boat Festival, illustrated ibid., pls.168 and 194.
See two related vases of similar theme with ‘hundred boys’ decoration, but Daoguang seal marks and period, sold in our London rooms, 12 May 2011, lot 362 and its pair in these rooms, 27 May 2012, lot 275.
BONHAMS. FINE CHINESE CERAMICS AND WORKS OF ART, 27 Nov 2014 14:30 HKT – HONG KONG, ADMIRALTY