A Famille rose vase decorated with rams and children
Lantern-shaped vase with enamel decoration of the Famille rose of children and 3 rams in a rock garden and flowers, the turquoise interior and the turquoise base reserved for an apocryphal seal and iron red mark of the reign of Qianlong (1736-1795), Republic Period (1912-1949).
The motif of the 3 rams ("san yang") expresses the revival of spring and the luck of the new year. It is associated with the rising sun ("taiyang") to constitute the following homophony pun: "Three rams bring prosperity". The "Yijing", Chinese Taoist divination book written in the 1st millennium BC mentions for the first time the term "san yang" which designates three yang (male) lines of force symbolizing Heaven. This trigram is positioned below three female lines of force (yin) called kun and which represent the Earth. Hence the phrase "Sanyang kaitai" which means "The New Year brings renewal and a change of fortune".
The motif of the 3 rams heralding the new year was already illustrated on Ming porcelains from the Jiajing dynasty (1522-1566) and it is here reinforced by its association with little boys to wish for an abundant offspring of male children. In addition, the lantern shape of the vase clearly refers to the "Lantern Festival" which closes the New Year's festivities in China. It is therefore a very auspicious vase, enamelled with great finesse in the Famille rose palette (fencaï).
It also bears the apocryphal mark of the reign of Qianlong which here simply means, reinforced by the use of turquoise (another imperial marker), "high quality object", but its style, the very thinness of its wall and its palette. enamels in shades more violent than those of the reign of Qianlong are characteristic of the best productions of the Chinese republican period, between 1912 and 1949. The imperial patronage having then disappeared at the same time as the Empire, this type of delicate object was intended for the mandarin elite, the new patron of high-quality Chinese ceramics which expressed itself as here between homage to traditions and innovation.
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