Cambi Auction House’s “Italian Mansions” auction catalogs encapsulate precious treasures belonging to elegant homes and specific Italian residences. Antique paintings, objets d’art, sculptures, fine furniture and furnishings.
Among the collections featured at “Italian Mansions” last June, an unusual and sought-after collection of Oriental Art stood out, reconfirming once again the variety of the catalog. Porcelain plates, teapots, bowls and vases, along with bronze statues and figures.
But attracting great attention from the public was a selection of porcelain works inspired by the animal world. Rare figures of carps, hawks, doves and many other animals made of the finest porcelain created a unique collection.
Oriental porcelain is known all over the world for its long and rich tradition dating back thousands of years, and the depiction of animal life takes center stage.
In both China and Japan, this knowledge draws on the great spiritual heritage, rich literary traditions, and currents of popular culture. Artists have expressed admiration for animals in sculpture, painting, and especially in porcelain. Real (as well as mythical) creatures have been beautifully depicted, often with humor and fantasy as well.
In China, with the beginning of the Qing dynasty, porcelain production increased and diversified in terms of hues and shapes. In Japan, during the Edo period, an art form developed that was characterized by the replacement of traditional subjects with scenes and characters from everyday life, such as Kabuki theater actors, gheishe, tea houses in the pleasure quarters, and especially pet animals.
In Asian art, fish often connoted good luck, prospects of wealth and success, and were depicted singly or in pairs (sometimes as a reference to marital happiness). In particular, the carp was a symbol of perseverance and success and is among the animals most depicted by artists because of its delicate beauty and graceful movements.
In ancient China, the dog was held in high esteem, a position among the animals of the zodiac is dedicated to it, and they were much loved by emperors and noble families.
The figure of the falcon, an emblem of warrior and victorious virility, symbolized courage, pride, nobility and loyalty. Indeed, falconry was a theme particularly dear to the samurai aristocracy, which held political power from 1185 to 1868.
Pairs of ducks and ducks were symbols of marital fidelity, and their image was particularly used and favored in 14th-century decoration of blue-white Chinese porcelain.
Prominent among the animal figures in Cambi’s auction was the pair of carp in porcelain painted in blue underglaze. Japan, Edo period (1600-1868), first quarter 19th century; (initial estimate: 6,000-8,000 euros, sold for 27,600 euros).
The pair of porcelain Rose Family hawks decorated with enamel and gold, China, Qing Dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1795); (initial estimate: 10,000-15,000 euros, sold for 22,600 euros).
The tureen and lid in the shape of a dormouse Porcelain decorated with polychrome enamels and gold, China, Qing Dynasty, Qianlogn period (1736 – 1795); (initial estimate: €4,000-5,000, sold at €21,350).
The pair of porcelain carp-shaped sauce tureens with lids, Rose Family, China, Qing Dynasty, Qianlong period (1736 – 1795); (initial estimate: €4,000-6,000, fetched at €12,600).
The pair of porcelain pug dogs decorated in polychrome enamels and gold, China, Qing Dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1795); (initial estimate: €4,000-6,000, sold at €12,600).
The pair of small dogs in porcelain decorated in iron-red and black enamel, China, Qing Dynasty, Qianlong period (1736 – 1795); (initial estimate: 3,000-6,000 euros, sold at 12,600 euros).
The pair of bronze candlesticks with porcelain ducks decorated with Pink Family enamels, China, Qing Dynasty, Qianlong era (1736 – 1795); (initial estimate: €4,000-6,000, fetched at €10,725).
The pair of Rose Family porcelain doves decorated with enamels and gold, China, Qing Dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1795); (initial estimate: €4,000-6,000, sold for €8,225).
The pair of porcelain Rose Family hawks decorated with enamel and gold, China, Qing Dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1795); (initial estimate: 5,000-8,000 euros, sold at 7,600 euros).