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Vase with tubular handles with Western figure on a polychrome ground in falangcai painted enamels, Qianlong reign (1736-1795), Qing dynasty

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Vase with tubular handles with Western figure on a polychrome ground in falangcai painted enamels
Qianlong reign (1736-1795), Qing dynasty
H. 14.8 cm;Diam. 1.6 cm;Diam. of base. 4 cm


This vessel is small and delicately made, with a tapered mouth, long neck, tubular handles attached to both sides of the neck, a long belly, and short ring foot. The body of the vase is somewhat thick, and both sides of the belly are adorned with colored paintings of Western landscapes and a Madonna and Child image. The surfaces outside the paintings are adorned with red, blue, green, and yellow patterns of curling branches, ruyi clouds, and flowers with entwined stems. Thus, the limited surface of the vase is densely covered with painted patterns, akin to the rich grandeur of a piece of silk embroidery. On the underside of the vase, a blue four-character inscription in Song-style script reads, "Qian Long Nian Zhi (Made in the Qianlong Reign)." During the 18th century, China was closely engaged with the rest of the world, and the Qing court included several missionaries from various parts of Europe, each with their own unique crafts and skills. These missionaries participated in the development and design of court art, while also introducing elements of Western culture, leading to the appearance of Western decorative designs on court-commissioned works. The white halo around the head of the maiden in the painting marks her as the Virgin Mary, and the child proffering flowers as the Child Jesus. The appearance of Madonna and Child paintings and Western landscapes in the decorative designs of the Qianlong official kilns reflects the interaction between Chinese and Western art during this time.