Christie’s to Auction Imperial Cloisonné Enamel Collection in May

 Christie’s Hong Kong will offer “Reverence and Perfection – Magnificent Imperial Cloisonné Enamels from a Private European Collection,” as part of its spring sales of Chinese ceramics and works of art on May 29.

 The 26-piece collection, which features examples of Imperial cloisonné enamel wares made during the 18th century — the most prolific era of cloisonné production in China — is estimated to realize in excess of HK$41 million (US$5.3 million).
A considerable number of pieces from this sale are large-sized vessels including censers, vases, and a fish basin, many of which bear Qianlong reign marks. The collection also includes a group of small scholar’s objects including brush rests, incense burners, and miniature vases.

Cloisonné is a complex ancient technique to decorate metal vessels either in copper or bronze. Once the outline of the decorative design is formed by copper wire, a variety of colorants mixed with glass paste is applied within the small cloisons. The vessel is then fired at a temperature of about 800 degrees Celsius for the glass paste to melt and then harden, with the process repeated many times. Once the surface was fully enameled, the metal cloisons and other decorative components such as the rims, handles, and finials were gilded in gold leaf. The most favored decorative motifs are flowers, birds, landscapes, and dragons.