Description & Technical information

Scandinavian or American Market

Price:  £30,000

A pair of Chinese export porcelain pistol handled urns and reticulated covers, with sepia roundels of European scenes. This type of vases became very popular in the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century, a style made popular by Robert Adam and the neo-classical style inspired by the excavations at Pompeii. The urns are originally derived from classical funerary urns and this style was first revived in the late sixteenth century by Stefano della Bella for Ferdinand de Medici in Florence. The Bella designs were published in England by Israel Sylvester and a later edition by Sayer was used by Wedgewood as a model for such urns. They were copied by Marieberg and Rörstrand in Sweden and also other European factories such as Sèvres in France. The Chinese export versions of the vases are found in an inventive array of styles, with handles of various forms, greek-key, pistol, flowers and the covers with knops of lotus bud, Chinese boys, the ‘weeping widow’, and some, with high reticulated domes such as these, which would allow the perfume from scented flowers or oils in the urns to percolate out slowly. All have the swags and the roundels (some with monogrammes) and the bases are mostly square and usually painted to resemble marble or porphyry, as in this pair. This ovoid shape is most unusual and so are the domed and reticulated covers which are not usually found on pistol-handled versions.

Date:  1800
Period:  18th century, Jiaqing period
Origin:  China
Medium: porcelain
Dimensions: 39 cm (15³/₈ inches)
Literature: References: Grandjean 1965, fig 128, cat 143, a single urn with Greek-key handles and a weeping widow finial; fig 126 a single with pistol handles; Howard & Ayers 1978, pp556-7, two urns; Howard 1994, p245, No 291, a pair of urns; Beurdeley 1962, p67 an urn of this shape but with the ‘urn mysterieuse’ design; p198, cat 206, an urn of this shape dated to 1775 and attributed to Marieberg and Scandinavian silver originals; p165, Cat 70, a single vase, key handles; Antunes 2000, No 123, a pair of urns; Wirgin 1998, p168, No 180, a pair of urns in blue enamels; Cohen & Cohen 2000, p38, No 28 a pair with monogramme of Gustav L Sifwertson; Cohen & Cohen 2004, p56, a pair of urns with floral handles and weeping widow finial; Cohen & Cohen 2008, p57, a pair with key handles.

Categories: Oriental and Asian Art