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Subject:Rare Cloisonne? Tourquoise ground any idea what era?
Posted By: lauren Sun, Aug 02, 2015 IP:

I will post a few of what I hope are worth looking at. I have a pair of these vases. Any comments are truly welcomed

Posted By: beadiste Mon, Aug 03, 2015

I'm probably making an ass of myself by suggesting that date, but I can't convince myself this bottle is from the c1915 Lao TianLi or early 19th century or 18th century Qianlong eras. Likely I don't know enough.

It's a graceful shape with a very nice surface design - whoever did it had some serious draftsmanship skill. Perhaps the artist was doing riffs on some Palace Museum or high-priced auction piece? I was intrigued by the double butterfly motif in dusty purple enamel, the symmetry, and the way the lotus blossoms resemble crabs and spiders - sly puns?

The wirework and enameling are very neatly done.

The spotting on the base looks like an effort at artifical aging, but at least the maker resisted a QianLong or Ming stamp.

So someone feel free to point out the aspects that make my dating suggestion ridiculous, and that this is really a pair of antique bottles worth several thousands.

Subject:Re: c1990?
Posted By: lauren Thu, Aug 06, 2015

This vase is at a very minimum late Qing. I am still waiting for experts to let me know if there is a chance it is earlier.
There are no deceptive aging techniques on this vase. The patinas are all natural. Several auction houses want me to consign them. A Chinese buyer offered me $5,000 USD for the pair a few months ago and that offer was turned down. I do not know if the offer was wholesale or retail. Most likely it was a good offer. Nevertheless, the market is booming and a pair of vases of this caliber will always hold their value.

Subject:Nearly identical design, 2006 auction
Posted By: beadiste Fri, Aug 07, 2015

Not as neatly executed as your vase pair.

URL Title :2006 Auction Bottle

Subject:Re: Nearly identical design, 2006 auction
Posted By: lauren Sat, Aug 08, 2015

Thanks for posting that:) Someone was inspired by this design but could not quite get it right :)

Subject:I wonder where they encountered it?
Posted By: beadiste Sun, Aug 09, 2015

Where would some little village cloisonne workshop doing knockoffs have seen the originals?

Subject:Re: I wonder where they encountered it?
Posted By: Bill H Mon, Aug 10, 2015

Just a thought on inspiration for cloisonné. I know that cloisonné designs were emulated by porcelain-makers during Qing times and later, so wonder if the emulative porcelains might have had an impact on products of non-mainstream cloisonné makers.

It also is the case in Taiwan and some other places that books of all kinds were widely copied and disseminated cheaply to the populace as a matter of official policy during the 20th century, without regard for copyrights. Included were historical art books, which could have been used by sophisticated factories, especially on Taiwan, to produce items such as the vases seen here. I should add, that while I've seen some examples of Taiwan cloisonné, I've never seriously studied or collected it or other such wares. However, I do own some rather inspiration-worthy examples of faux cloisonné patterns in porcelain. Pictures are posted below of some small cups of mine. The Guangxu mark & period example is 6.5 cm high and reflects models made during the Qianlong reign. The Qianlong mark & period cup is 3.8 cm high. Both were collected in pairs.

Best regards,

Bill H.

Subject:Original works, the Palace Museum, embroidery, porcelain
Posted By: beadiste Tue, Aug 11, 2015

Accounts of the revival of Chinese cloisonne in the 1950s tell of coordination with scholars of other arts - embroidery, porcelain - and of young art school graduates assigned to work with old craftsmen. Remember that apsaras cloisonne plate from a prior thread? Qian Meihua started out as a student of textile arts, and relates being thrilled by an exhibit of Silk Road embroideries. Also the thread about the workers' tools plate with the inscription stating a porcelain expert was the designer, with the design of the plate back matching another plate by the same designer in porcelain.
Qian Meihua's biography tells how she spent nearly 3 years copying patterns in the cloisonne storage room of the Palace Museum, locked in from morning til night for security, sweltering in summer, and so cold in winter that her brush was as hard as a fruit pit. I'm guessing one learns a great deal about historic patterns from an experience like that. A prior thread also discussed a Palace Museum QianLong bottle design copied by Jin Shiquan, whose biography also describes his visits to the museum to learn how to do a better, more traditional dragon than the stereotype popular in the earlier decades of the 20th century.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that the Chinese cloisonne artists beginning in the 1950s were no slouches when it came to artistry and innovation, with Liberation providing the ax that destroyed the old master/apprentice workshop system. The Beijing Enamel Factory evolved from a rugged experimental workshop to a high tech operation, developing a huge pallet of enamel colors compared to the 11 or so of prior times, gas furnaces instead of coal, wiring techniques to bend up to a dozen identical wire motifs at once, a staff of artists to draw and color designs, etc etc. Their wares were, and continue to be, a mix of traditional designs, new designs combining traditional motifs, completely original works with modern stylings, and reproductions of Ming and Qing pieces. The body of skills is extraordinary.
In other words, it is entirely possible that a handsome piece is entirely original, very well made, and not a product of former centuries.
And these handsome original works are copied relentlessly by smaller shops. I've given up counting examples of Zhang Lu's Butterfly Vase and Steel Vase appearing in online auctions, none of them ever, ever attributed to him, all claiming provenance from the 19th century or earlier. It's ridiculous.
As an example, I own an actual knock-off of Zhang Lu's wild and dramatic vase inspired by neolithic YangShao pottery motifs. It's not nearly as crisp, neat, and gilded as Zhang Lu's original, but totally worth the modest price I paid for it after someone rescued it from an estate sale.
So there is no need to invoke some mysterious Taiwan replicant atelier, the Beijing workshops were and are entirely capable of producing replicas of not only Ming and Qing pieces that have been published in auction catalogs and books, but of notable works by contemporary cloisonne artists.

Subject:Zhang Lu's Butterfly Vase and Steel Vase
Posted By: beadiste Tue, Aug 11, 2015

Mei Qianhua's 1981 bottle is also relentlessly copied everywhere.

Subject:Re: Zhang Lu's Butterfly Vase and Steel Vase
Posted By: beadiste Wed, Aug 12, 2015

That's "Qian Meihua," of course. For some addlepated reason I habitually get the first two characters reversed.

Subject:丁明鸿 Ding MingHong
Posted By: beadiste Wed, Aug 12, 2015

A nice example of an artist with the skills to do riffs on historic pieces from the Palace Museum as well as innovative modern works.

URL Title :Ding MingHong webpage

Subject:Re: 丁明鸿 Ding MingHong
Posted By: Bill H Thu, Aug 13, 2015

Thanks for the informative and nicely illustrated comeback. Not that I wish to make Taiwan a poster child for fakery--such activity there pales in comparison to the scale of it on the Mainland. I do find it curious, though, that Taiwan mostly gets overlooked as a source of imitations of any kind.

I used to own a few examples of Cultural Revolution-era cloisonné vases in what essentially were sterilized patterns, devoid of anything metaphysical or as interesting from the design standpoint as any of the experimental pieces you've shown here. I picked them up in the central market of Rangoon shortly after arrival there for an American embassy posting in the early eighties, figuring they were better than nothing to help decorate my living room. In the weeks to come, I noticed quite a bit more of these pieces around town, prompting me to ask a friend at the UN office if the Burmese had been importing cloisonné from China. To the contrary, he claimed that the Chinese literally had tossed these old decorative items out of the Embassy after newly made supplies of the more pleasing traditional patterns of both cloisonné and porcelain had become available under the guidance of rehabilitated leader Deng Xiaoping.

Unfortunately, I no longer have any of the Cultural Revolution-era pieces left to contribute to forum discussions, as I gave them all away to make space after retirement as my porcelain collection grew. I believe I could appreciate them more in light of what I've learned here.

Best regards,

Bill H. | Associations | Articles | Exhibitions | Galleries |