A very rare and beautiful pair of Louis XV gilt bronze mounted late Qing Dynasty Kangxi period famille-verte porcelain two-light wall-lights, each composed of a porcelain young Chinese woman in contraposto pose, one wearing a green and the other a turquoise floral dress seated on a striped pedestal and holding a baluster-shaped vase decorated with floral sprays from which issue gilt bronze Rococo asymmetrical scrolling candle branches, terminated at different levels by two foliate drip-pans below foliate wrapped candle holders, each of the figurines mounted on a foliate base terminated by a foliate boss
The porcelain figurines: China, probably Jingdezhen, Qing Dynasty, late Kangxi period (1662-1722).
The gilt bronzes: Paris, date circa 1750
Height 32 cm, width 22 cm. each.
These rare and very beautiful wall-lights combine the arts of China and France. The vogue for mounting Chinese export porcelain, which goes back to the Renaissance, enjoyed a great revival during the eighteenth century. The present figurines have been designed to serve as wall-lights. Their creation would have been masterminded by one of the Parisian marchands-merciers such as Lazare Duvaux who would have purchased the porcelain directly from one of the East Indies companies and then have commissioned one of the Parisian bronziers to create Rococo style mounts and their final assembly as wall-lights.
Gilt bronze mounted porcelain wall-lights became very fashionable in both and France and England during the middle eighteenth century. Not all however integrated Chinese porcelain but instead used European porcelain such as two pairs with Vincennes porcelain figures and flowers in the Waddesdon Collection as well as another pair with Meissen flowers in the Wrightsman Collection (illustrated respectively in Geoffrey de Bellaigue, "The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor", 1974, vol. II, p. 795-7 and in F. J. B. Watson, "The Wrightsman Collection", 1966, vol. II, p. 409).
The brilliant painted enamel decoration of the porcelain, known as famille-vert, was developed during the reign of Emperor Kangxi (K'ang Hsi) (1662-1722) and took its name from the variety of clear greens that characterize its style. It replaced the earlier Ming five-colour scheme in which blue was rendered in underglaze and not in enamel.
The almost pure white porcelain body was decorated with enamelled iron-red, manganese-purple and antimony-yellow and was finished with a thin glassy green overglaze enamel. The majority of the enamels appeared to be transparent, and slightly flowed when fired; the exceptions were the overglaze iron red enamel and the under-enamel black, both of which were opaque and did not flow. Towards the end of the Kangxi period an entirely new palette, known as famille-rose was introduced. Here the colours, dominated by a rose-pink introduced from Europe, were mixed with white to achieve an opaque or semi-opaque effect. Classification into families famille-verte or rose, as well as famille-jaune and noire was a later invention, coined during the nineteenth century by the French writer Albert Jacquemart.
Nearly all Chinese porcelain intended for export was made in the Imperial factory at Jingdezhen, near Nanking. The Imperial factory, founded in 1369 produced nearly all the finest Chinese porcelain from the Ming period onward. Pieces decorated in underglaze blue were painted in the same town but wares with polychrome painting such as the present examples, were generally decorated in specialised enamelling shops in the Treaty Port of Canton, where Cantonese enamels were also manufactured.