Magnifici coppia di Vasi cloissonne’ appartenuti a Costantino Nigro e presentati
alla 3° Mostra Nazione dell’Antiquariato Roma Palazzo Braschi – 07 Maggio – 29 Maggio 1966
A pair of impressive cloisonne’ enamel vases and covers, 19th century
Each vase of baluster form, rising from a splayed foot and flanked by a pair of dragon handles, finely enamelled with colourful sprays of chrysanthemums, peonies, plum blossoms and lotus, issuing from craggy rocks amidst butterflies, birds and other blossoming flowers, all beneath a ruyi collar band and a waisted neck, the domed cover decorated with lotus within leafy tendrils and four reticulated ruyi panel depicting bats amidst wispy clouds, all surmounted by a bud-shaped finial with a writhing dragon. 104.1cm (41in) high.
The magnificent vases are fine examples reflecting the opulent taste of the Qing Court, combining the vibrantly colourful cloisonne’ enamel with gilded reticulated designs and handles. The vessels are imbued with auspicious meanings, which may have been conceived as blessings to the owner. Bats are homophone with the word fu, 福meaning happiness, while dragons, capable of flying high in the sky and diving back into the sea, were, since the earliest phases of Chinese history, praised for their supernatural powers and associated with the figure of the emperor. Considered as a group, chrysanthemums, plum blossoms, peonies and lotus flowers symbolise the four seasons and may have been intended to release the benign effects resulting from seasonal changes. Symbolic of longevity, chrysanthemums also represent autumn; plum blossoms represent winter or early spring, strength and endurance and peonies symbolise wealth and opulence but also early spring and summer; lotus flowers are associated with summer; in addition, as a flower emerging from the mud, the lotus also symbolises purity. Homophone with the word for happiness, Magpies, xique, 喜鹊 are also depicted perching on prunus branches, conveying the rebus Xishang meishao, 喜上眉梢, meaning ‘Happiness up to the tips of one’s eyebrows’.