Become An Expert In 2 Minutes: Exploring the Special Straits Chinese Collection By Andy Penders
Dec 12, 2023
Understanding Straits Chinese Artistry
The laborious famille rose technique came to define Straits Chinese porcelains, requiring two intricate firing processes to perfect the vibrant colours and motifs. Famille rose first emerged through experiments to build upon the established blue and white aesthetic, adding lush overglaze details. Specifically, Chinese artisans drew inspiration from foreign oils and enamels brought by Western traders and envoys received during the Qing dynasty's vibrant Kangxi era.
By cleverly incorporating these vivid foreign pigments within the traditional bone china medium, artisans advanced colour mastery to new heights through the Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong reigns. Distinct famille rose Palettes came to signify different imperial reign marks. This complex technique contrasted localised handicrafts like intricate Peranakan beaded shoes and detailed silver krises displaying masterful metalworking. Beyond technique, motifs also carried cultural symbolism, with flowers like peonies, lotuses, chrysanthemums conveying different seasonal meaning while phoenixes embodied aspirational values. Such difficult porcelain artistry and bespoke artefacts increased desirability and value, contributing to the scarce availability surviving today.
A Classic White-Bordered Trio
Lot 1, the first spotlighted lot presents a harmonious trio of late Qing dynasty plates bearing the reign mark of Guangxu, one of the final emperors preceding the dynasty’s collapse. Their pure white background and borders provide a crisp foundation for the ornate focal motif of a standing phoenix, rendered in vibrant famille rose enamels. Surrounding the stately phoenix, one finds delicate pink peony blooms interspersed with the eight treasured Buddhist emblems signifying fortune, prosperity, longevity and wisdom.
While in overall excellent condition, discerning eyes may note almost imperceptible indentations visible only upon close inspection of the plates’ borders, hinting at the gentle wear resulting from a century of appreciation and use. Such slight signs of age only augment the allure of these porcelain survivors. With the full classic set starting at a competitive MYR 3,600 bid price through Best2Bid’s process, curator Stephen believes this white-bordered arrangement remains particularly well worth collecting before none continue to endure in such relatively untouched condition.
An Exquisite Dual Peony Anomaly
Lot 2, the next premium lot delivers an outstanding composition upon a luminous white porcelain ground: a wide rimmed plate anchored by not one but two vibrant giant peonies, hand-painted in the most nuanced famille rose technique. Tracing the intricate palette and brushwork, one discovers no fading or muddying that often creeps into enamels over extensive use and age. This Crisp preservation astonishes Stephen in his extensive auction career, instilling recognition of this royal pink peony plate’s rarity and importance for discerning collectors.
Giant blooms were typically reserved for display upon larger elite vessels. Finding such a delicate rendering upon a serving plate indicates tailored commission by an eminent Peranakan family desiring an anomaly to ignite discussion at gatherings. Stephen estimates fervent demand driving competitive bidding come auction day. But starting bids hold under MYR 3,300, allowing one shrewd bidder the chance to secure this true one-of-a-kind showstopper for a relative bargain. Such miracles still occur through Best2Bid’s passionate community sharing heritage appreciation.
Glimpsing Imperial Influences
Lot 3, the next spotlighted treasure provides a truly glowing opportunity: a chance to steward - even temporarily - your own superb imperial-style bowl and cover graced with a heavenly motif against an unforgettable emerald ground. Tracing intricately enamelled phoenixes in flight amid peonies, buyers glimpse the pinnacle of technical mastery achieved by Qing artisans during the dynasty’s twilight decades. Its Tongzhi reign mark confirms origins likely between 1856 to 1875 for prominent regional patrons.
Having endured over generations, this set’s importance far belies its starting bid under MYR 4,300, betraying another find for Best2Bid’s community. Likely commissioned for auspicious ceremonies by the influential Peranakan family, such artefacts rarely reemerge so intact. This bowl and cover set almost assuredly graced their heirs’ milestone life events and guests across the years, conveying prosperity in its vibrant hues. Don’t miss this opportunity bringing such rich heritage into your personal stewardship through Best2Bid’s passionate collective.
Understanding the Prestige of Dayazhai Porcelains
Lots 4 and 5 deliver incredible opportunities to procure artefacts linked to the apex of 19th century imperial porcelain production: the hallowed Dayazhai style made for none other than Dowager Empress Cixi herself. As the Qing dynasty spiralled toward collapse, Cixi consolidated ruling power from behind the throne, commandeering vast sums to fund her luxurious lifestyle and expansive Yuanmingyuan estate complexes against court objections.
There, within the extravagant Garden of Eternal Spring, she maintained the exclusive Dayazhai workshop - translating to “Studio of Greater Odes,” likely referring to Cixi’s poetic stylings. Under her dictates, artisans achieved unprecedented enamel mastery reviving the most vibrant Kangxi and Yongzheng famille rose traditions to decorate Cixi’s menagerie of vessels. The complex Dayazhai style soon denoted the ultimate status symbol during this turbulent era, its technical and symbolic intricacies highly distinguishing Cixi’s pieces from imitations flooding the wider market both then and now.
Best2Bid offers true connoisseurs a rare window procuring porcelain relics genuinely connected to Dayazhai’s rarified legend, albeit likely later individual commissions interpreting its trademark techniques for prominent regional collectors rather than original Cixi-owned items. Nonetheless, their auction arrival remains unreasonable given scarcity of such quality. Don't hesitate appreciating their artistry up close this December!
Revelling in Cixi's Coveted Aesthetic
The final highlighted lot, Lot 6, transports us to the dawn of China’s republican era, reaching even Cixi’s inner sanctum just as the Qing dynasty expired. Lot 6 delivers an extraordinarily rare vision in full: a petite circular box and cover ensconcing quintessential Straits Chinese botanical motifs, only here, every surface parades in an imperial sea of crimson and pink enamel normally reserved for the Dowager Empress’ eyes alone.
Its reign mark integrates the fateful Hongxian name, memorialising the 83-day debacle where general Yuan Shikai claimed himself China’s new emperor. Crucially, this verifies the box’s manufacture during precisely this controversial 1916 window before the Republic solidified. We can readily envision prominent regional collectors still enamoured by Cixi’s grandeur commissioning this homage to her now evaporated era from Jingdezhen painters familiar with Dayazhai porcelain’s sought-after touches. Their execution remains outstanding.
What stories hide within this jewel-toned time capsule over a century hence? One prominent collector now has the chance to unlock its secrets for themselves when the hammer falls this December. But who will seize the day to stage this disappearing Cixi-inspired artistry within their own home shrine just as intended? Opportunity and history intertwine at Best2Bid’s event this year-end. Don’t let them pass you by!