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Chinese Cloisonné Altar Set

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China Anonymous, Chinese
Chinese Cloisonné Altar Set, c. 1750
Enamel on Bronze
9 5/8 in. x 8 in. x 6 9/16 in. (24.45 cm x 20.32 cm x 16.67 cm)


Object Type: Cloisonné
Technique: Cast
Creation Place: Asia, China
Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Dorothy Adler Routh
Accession Number: 73.3.8 a, b, c


Commentary
The object is dated at c. 1850 by appraiser Tomoo Ogita in his 1971 report, and then dated as 18th century in his book with Richard Petterson, dated 1975.

Dimensions
Beakers measure 11 in. x 6 1/4 in. x 6 1/4 in. (27.94 cm x 15.88 cm x 15.88 cm).
Incense burner measures 9 5/8 in. x 8 in. x 6 9/16 in. (24.45 cm x 20.32 cm x 16.67 cm).

Marks
No marks.

Medium
Casted bronze objects with multicolored enamels and some gilding.

Object Description
A set of three objects comprising an altar set. The set includes a Chinese fangding bronze incense burner and a pair of Chinese square zun bronze beakers, with blue, red, dark blue, pink, and white enamels executed as a lotus and scroll decoration on a light turquoise field. Gilded, notched flanges run down the sides of all three altar vessels. The deep, rectangular open body of the incense burner is held by four attached legs shaped as makara, also known as “foliated dragons.” In their book, Chinese Cloisonne, Helmut Brinker and Albert Lutz describe the makara as a dragon-like mythical creature with a foliated tail and an elephant-like trunk. The underside of the fangding also shows the same scrolling lotus pattern. Two handles extend from the top edge of the object and a blue key-fret geometric pattern runs along the rim. This incense burner has no lid. The fangzun beakers, like the fangding incense burner and other cloisonné altar vessels, are designed and decorated in an archaic style, cast in the shape of bronze altar vessels of the early Zhou/Chou Dynasty (1045-256 BC). The body of the beakers have an applied rim and base-plate, with the scrolling cloisonné lotuses extending into the inner lip of each vessel. They are composed in three distinct pieces. Tomoo Ogita and Richard Petterson conjecture that this altar set may have been produced in the Forbidden City Palace Workshops of the Qianlong Emperor (1736-1795). Altar sets are usually comprised of five pieces: a central cauldron-like incense burner flanked by a pair of tall beakers and pricket candlesticks. This set is missing the pair of candlesticks. Condition: pitted enamel, loss of gilt
Sources: Ogita, Tomoo and Richard Petterson. Asian Cloisonné Enamels. Claremont, CA: Dorothy Adler Routh Publications, 1975. Brinker, Helmut and Albert Lutz. Chinese Cloisonné: The Pierre Uldry Collection. Trans. Susanna Swoboda. New York: The Asia Society Galleries, 1989.

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