Chinese export art dominated Christie's auction in New York yesterday (January 28), as a pair of rare fishbowls showing the traditional production of porcelain topped the sale.
The auction, entitled English Pottery and Chinese Export Art, saw a final bid of $266,500 for the bowls, which were created around the mid-18th century for the European market. Their famille rose decoration is extremely rare, resulting in a 77.6% increase on the $150,000 valuation.
At the time, much of China's porcelain came from Jingdezhen, a vast industrial city that the Western world had been aware of since Pere d'Entrecolles' visits in 1715. However, buyers preferred the romanticised view of porcelain production as being handmade in a traditional workshop, as shown on the two fishbowls.
As such, many of the pieces created for the Western world catered to their intended audience. The images found on porcelain of this nature is similar to those in well-known watercolour albums produced for export, which also depict tea and silk production - similarly luxurious commodities for wealthy Europeans.
It was fashionable to display these scenes as wallpaper, a fantastic example of which can be found on the walls of Coutts, a private London banking firm.
Also selling well was a Chinese export "Orange Fitzhugh" armorial dinner service, which brought $182,500 and an 82.5% increase on its $100,000 high estimate. Manufactured circa 1805-1810, the huge service was made for Sir Alexander Seton, 5th Baronet of Culberg and Touch, a prominent member of the East India Company.
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