Exceptional Qing Famille Rose Porcelain Lamp with White Jade Plaque Finial

 

19th century, Qianlong period; lamp capped with white jade plaque finial carved with celebratory characters and sits on European style carved bronze tiered plinth.  H: 31.5″

Jade Cap

This lamp is made from a quadrangular porcelain vase attributed to Qianlong period, when the famille-rose color palette was invented by the Jesuits in palace workshops.  The rectangular panels have a white glazed ground framed by a light blue-green band scattered with white petals.  Each panel either has enamel painting of a high official or a court lady, all richly dressed in famille-rose color robes, relaxing and enjoying the outdoors under colorful floating clouds, in a garden setting planted with grass, seasonal trees and flowers, and exotic garden rocks among which deer and crane roam.

The vase has a neck which sits recessed on the square shoulder of the vase, with the vase itself rests on a recessed round base.  These features are all enameled in a light blue-green color background decorated with brocade designs.  The shoulder is painted with colorful floating clouds and a bat at each corner.  These motifs symbolize good fortune, success, and happiness.  The vase has a pair of orange-hue handles in the shape of Fu-dog head biting a ring.

Bronze

The vase sits on a Chinese archaic-styled carved wood base, which in turn mounts on a heavy two tiers European style carved bronze plinth to make sure there is no possibility the lamp would topple.  The antique brass lamp post ends with a big rectangular white jade plaque finial, clasped by the post’s tentacle-like arms.  This jade plaque is carved with openwork running dragons at the top and bottom, and relief carvings of “double happiness”, “long life”, and “good fortune” Chinese characters in the middle on opposite sides of the piece.  With the presence of this valuable carved jade plaque, this lamp was likely a wedding present for an important couple.

In Qianlong period, China was settled by European foreigners who loved Chinese porcelain.  This vase was collected by a European who converted the vase into a lamp as a more utile household item.  The transition was done with considerable thoughts as it was necessary to connect a dainty vase on a wood base to a substantially heavy base of some kind so the lamp would not topple.  For this to happen, the porcelain vase standing on a beautifully carved wood base with short classical cabriole legs on a pad was secured to an elaborately carved heavy bronze plinth etched with double tiers of friezes of low-relief flower motifs and beadings, with wire then goes through for the lighting.  The result is a magnificent-looking lamp in keeping with an archaic past.  The shade is not original.

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