A small cloisonne enamel lotus-pattern censer

The censer is of stout construction with a barrel-shaped body with a gilded rim supported on three gilt-bronze cabriole legs. The sides are decorated in red, blue, yellow, mixed green, brown and white enamels on a bright turquoise ground with a broad band of lotus scroll, with large stylized blossoms borne on leafy looping stems, beneath a mixed green and yellow ground band of florets and leaves. The base is decorated in the same style with a single blue lotus amid foliage. The work is finely executed in different thicknesses of wire, all richly gilded. The interior is ungilded, showing the copper-coloured metal body.
Private collection, South of France
For a censer of similar proportions and decoration in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, gift of David David-Weill in 1923, see Béatrice Quette, Cloisonné, Chinese Enamels from the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties, no. 5.28. p. 97, where the author suggests an early Ming date. For another tripod censer of similar barrel shape but decorated with grapes, see the same volume, cat. no. 3, p. 240 and fig. no. 3.14, p. 39, dated to the Chenghua period. In ceramics, the barrel-shaped censer is associated with the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, so this latter dating for the form in cloisonné seems more convincing, and is followed here.

Unlike large censers for ceremonial use, small censers like the present example would have been used in the more intimate setting of a study or library, providing the subtle aroma of incense congenial to contemplatio and clarity of thought.

Dimensions: Height: 8 cm, 3⅛ inches

Date: Ming dynasty (1368-1644), 16th century

Stock No. 2388

Price: On Request