Comprising a pair of gu-form vases and three baluster vases and covers, each of octagonal section and brightly painted with shaped panels of bird-and-flower scenes including prominent crickets and mantises, the necks of the covered vases and mid-bodies of the gu vases alternating flowering branches with mountainous landscapes, all between iron-red oeil de perdrix ground bands punctuated by lotus and gilt chrysanthemums, the covers surmounted by gilt Buddhistic lion finials.

Additional Information

A five-piece Chinese export garniture was an essential element in 18th century European decorative interior design. Emerging in the 17th century when the Dutch founded The East India Company and opened trade routes from East to West, the passion for Chinese Export goods spread throughout the Continent. The grouping of ceramic vessels, typically on top of a cabinet or mantel, is a distinctly European phenomenon, often theorized to have ancient Chinese origins. Wugongs were Chinese sets of five offering vessels, often made of metal, to be used at an altar. As Western merchants became exposed to their form, the vases were produced in porcelain, with design motifs that would appeal to the growing European market. Inspired by the shapes of the Chinese altar candlestick and incense burners, export garniture sets, which included a new beaker shape and covered baluster vases, became increasingly popular.
In Georgian England, no aristocratic home was considered complete unless it boasted a fine collection of Chinese Export porcelain. This phase in English interior design can be traced back to the French architect Daniel Marot (1661-1752) who was at the court of William and Mary in Holland, and continued to work with the couple as King William III and Queen Mary II of England in 1689 at Hampton Court. Marot was concerned with all details pertaining to the design of his interiors and had a particular passion for ceramics. He circulated pamphlets with his illustrations depicting rooms filled with wall-mounted porcelain vases, further spreading the fashion for their inclusion in domestic interiors.
Changing tastes in the mid-19th century caused the dispersal of many sets. By the Victorian period, people, both wealthy and middle class, were collecting bric-a-brac, filling their mantles and cabinet tops with items collected over time. During the Arts and Crafts movement, the mantel became a place to display individual interests. Large sets of garnitures were no longer in vogue, as the taste for single impact-making vases took center stage, often surrounded by collections that could include other rustic domestic pottery along with unique objects such as natural artifacts (fossils, minerals). Five-piece garnitures were frequently split into pairs and singles. It is particularly unusual to see a complete garniture set of this size.
The present five-piece garniture, incorporating a pair of gu form vases and three covered baluster form vases, is decorated with a vibrant polychrome palette, depicting intricately painted flora and fauna. The en grisaille panels show river filled pagoda landscapes. The exquisite design and grand scale, combined with the fact that this garniture remains intact, makes it a superb example of a major theme in the history of interior design.

An Extremely Rare Chinese Export Famille Rose Five-Piece Garniture

CIRCA 1730–40

Three at Height: 27" Width: 13" Depth: 13" Two at Height: 20" Width:10.75" Depth: 10.75"

Inventory Number: 8518-314


Price Available Upon Request