d5335219l

A Chinese imari shell-shaped enamel ewer and basin, Yongzheng period (1723-35). Photo: Christie's Images Ltd., 2010

The ewer formed as a nautilus shell on a stepped, waisted foot, with large scrolling bracket handle, the basin as a scallop shell, the exterior of the ewer and interior of the basin decorated on the fluted surface with bérainesque motifs within iron-red and gilt line surrounds, the underside of the basin with similar motifs in underglaze blue and gilt, supported on three small shell feet, restorations
12¼ in. (31 cm.) high, and 14½ in. (37 cm.) wide (2). Estimate £10,000 - £15,000 Price Realized £20,000

Provenance: Acquired by Honble. John Spencer (1708-1746) from Elizabeth Chenevix, January 28 1741/2 'A China ewer £1.11s.6d. Febry 3 A Large China Scalop'd Shell Bason £2.12s.6d'.

Literature: W.B. Honey, Catalogue of the Porcelain and Pottery both Oriental and European in the Collection of the Earl Spencer at Althorp, 1937, no. 96.

Notes: This ewer and basin was acquired by the Honble. John Spencer from Elizabeth Chenevix, January 28 1741/2 'A China ewer 1.11.6. Febry 3 A Large China Scalop'd Shell Bason 2.12.6' (MSS, British Library, Add. 78026, Althorp Papers).

There is a long tradition of nautilus shell and scallop shell shapes in European (especially southern) metalwork. Chinese export porcelain models of the present kind were fashionable in the first quarter of the 18th century, at the height of the Chinese Imari era, and continued to be requested as fashion turned to floral famille rose in the second quarter of the century, when they were more commonly made in painted enamel.

A similar ewer and basin was in the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Rafi Y. Mottahedeh, illustrated by Howard and Ayers, China for the West, London and New York, 1978, vol. I, no. 125, p. 144. Another, from the Collection of Benjamin F. Edwards III was sold at Christie's New York, 22 January 2002, lot 81.

d5335232l

A pair of large Chinese celadon-glazed double-gourd vases, 18th century. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd., 2010

Each with globular lower section and pear-shaped upper section, moulded and carved all over with peony blooms amongst scrolling foliage, all under an even pale celadon glaze pooling to a slightly darker tone in the recesses to enhance the design, the interiors and undersides white, one vase repaired, 17¾ in. (45 cm.) high (2). Estimate £5,000 - £7,000  Price Realized £20,000

Provenance: Possibly Sarah, 1st Duchess of Marlborough (1660-1744) and thence by descent to her favourite grandson Hon. John Spencer (1708-46), father of John, 1st Earl Spencer (1734-1783).
Thence by descent to John Poyntz, 5th Earl Spencer (1835-1910) at Althorp, where photographed in the Domenichino Room in 1892 and the Billiard Room in 1909.

Literature: W.B. Honey, Catalogue of the Porcelain and Pottery both Oriental and European in the Collection of the Earl Spencer at Althorp, 1937, no. 65

d5335231l

A large Chinese famille verte 'mythical beast' dish. Kangxi period (1662-1722). Photo: Christie's Images Ltd., 2010

Of saucer shape, similarly decorated to the preceding lots, the underside with four lotus clusters above alternating iron-red and green triangular petals radiating from the unglazed grooved foot rim, the base with an underglaze blue hua mark within double circles
15 3/8 in. (39 cm.) diam. Estimate £5,000 - £7,000  Price Realized £15,000

Provenance: Possibly Sarah, 1st Duchess of Marlborough (1660-1744) and thence by descent through her daughter Anne (1683-1716), wife of Charles, 3rd Earl of Sunderland (1675-1722) to her favourite grandson Hon. John Spencer (1708-46), father of John, 1st Earl Spencer (1734-1783).

d5335228l

A large Chinese famille verte 'mythical beast' dish. Kangxi period (1662-1722). Photo: Christie's Images Ltd., 2010

Of saucer shape, enamelled with a phoenix in flight swooping towards a mythical beast on a terrace beside rockwork, pawlonia trees and clusters of flowers, a gilt moon appearing from behind delicately enamelled cloud scrolls, the base with an underglaze blue leaf mark within double circles, 15¼ in. (38.9 cm.) diam. Estimate £7,000 - £10,000 Price Realized £15,000

Provenance: Possibly Sarah, 1st Duchess of Marlborough (1660-1744) and thence by descent through her daughter Anne (1683-1716), wife of Charles, 3rd Earl of Sunderland (1675-1722) to her favourite grandson Hon. John Spencer (1708-46), father of John, 1st Earl Spencer (1734-1783).

d5335229la

A large Chinese famille verte 'mythical beast' dish. Kangxi period (1662-1722). Photo: Christie's Images Ltd., 2010

Of saucer shape, similarly decorated to the preceding lot, 15 3/8 in. (38.5 cm.) diam. Estimate £7,000 - £9,000 Price Realized £15,000

Provenance: Possibly Sarah, 1st Duchess of Marlborough (1660-1744) and thence by descent through her daughter Anne (1683-1716), wife of Charles, 3rd Earl of Sunderland (1675-1722) to her favourite grandson Hon. John Spencer (1708-46), father of John, 1st Earl Spencer (1734-1783).

d5335230lb

A large Chinese famille verte 'mythical beast' dish. Kangxi period (1662-1722). Photo: Christie's Images Ltd., 2010

Of saucer shape, similarly decorated to the preceding lots, 15¼ in. (38.8 cm.) diam. Estimate £5,000 - £7,000 Price Realized £8,750

Provenance: Possibly Sarah, 1st Duchess of Marlborough (1660-1744) and thence by descent through her daughter Anne (1683-1716), wife of Charles, 3rd Earl of Sunderland (1675-1722) to her favourite grandson Hon. John Spencer (1708-46), father of John, 1st Earl Spencer (1734-1783).

Christie's. The Spencer House Sale. 8 July 2010. London, King Street www.christies.com