A Chinese bronze and cloisonné enamels standing crane, the beak and legs gilt, on a circular plinth also in cloisonné enamels with a lotus decoration , mid or end of the Qianlong period (1736-1795), 18th century.
The crane is a very auspicious animal in China because it was thought to be able to live 100 years. It was therefore associated in the cult of longevity with the Taoist saints for whom it served as a celestial mount. Pairs of large standing cranes in cloisonné enamels as tall as the natural animal were often used for the imperial decorum of the Manchu emperors of the Qing dynasty, most of the time flanking each side of a throne.
Such highly decorative objects are often attributed, especially when of smaller size such as the present example, to the Jiaqing period around 1800. However this superbly enamelled crane belongs probably to the middle or the end of Qianlong's reign for its period of manufacture.
The very fine material of the cloisonné, the thickness of the gilding on the copper walls and on the legs, and, finally, the elaborate technique of the plinth decorated with lotus in sumptuous enamels are all elements in favor of the high quality standards still applied during the 18th century rather than the following century.