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Superb collection of Chinese export porcelain offered at Bonhams Fine Chinese Art sale
A famille rose Tobacco leaf 'exotic pheasants and squirrel' part dinner service, Qianlong. Estimate:£15,000-20,000. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- Bonhams will offer a distinguished European private collection of Chinese export porcelain at its Fine Chinese Art sale in New Bond Street, London on Thursday 16 May.

The highlight of the collection is a very fine and rare pair of famille rose 'goose' tureens and covers, Qianlong, circa 1760, estimated at £150,000-200,000. Goose tureens are exceptionally rare due to their extremely delicate forms and the difficulty involved in both modelling and firing them successfully, as well as transporting them back to Europe.

Animal tureens such as the pair of geese were used as extravagant centrepieces for table settings fashionable in Europe in the 18th century. Such tureens were made in a variety of animal forms including boar-heads and crabs (such as a pair of small famille rose boar-head tureens and covers and a rare polychrome crab tureen and cover in this sale, estimated at £10,000-15,000 and £20,000-30,000, respectively).

Whilst geese appear in nature in brown and white colours, the potters chose to colour the porcelain tureens with a burst of colours including pink and crimson, yellow, blue, iron-red, purple, green, sepia and gold. Such brilliant colourful array would have made the impressive and sculptural geese tureens a dazzling spectacle to behold. The complex sculptural form, particularly the long neck, would have made the production of such tureens challenging, displaying the exceptional skills of the Chinese master potters during the height of the Qing dynasty. The tureens were rare and highly desirable in the 18th century as indeed they are today.

Also included in the collection are a very rare pair of famille rose ‘standing cockerel’ teapots and cover, Qianlong, circa 1740, (£6,000-10,000), and a famille rose tobacco leaf ‘exotic pheasants and squirrel’ part dinner-service, Qianlong (1736-1795), (£15,000-20,000). During the last decades of the 18th century, a new taste emerged in Europe among the newly-rich, commissioning and buying Chinese porcelain to decorate their houses and accompany entertaining their guests. Porcelain with the 'tobacco leaf' motifs were among the most popular.

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