A Chinese Imari ‘lighthouse’ coffee pot and cover. Yongzheng period

Of typical conical shape, with bird spout and elaborate shaped handle, painted in underglaze blue and enamelled in iron red and gilt with boughs of sprouting lilies, the stepped foot with two iron red decorative borders, the domed cover decorated en-suite

Period :
Yongzheng (1723-1735)
10.62 in. (27 cm)
Reference :


Private Parisian collection

Related works

For a model decorated as this one in the Imari palette, see Christie’s NYC, The Collection of Benjamin F. Edwards III, 2010, lot 36), with a European decoration (see D.S.Howard, China for the West: Chinese Porcelain and Other Decorative Arts for Export Illustrated from the Mottahedeh Collection, 1978, T. I, p. 275.

Another coffee pot decorated in famille rose enamels with a pheasant and a peacock (Godtschalck bequest, 1915) is in the collection of the Royal Museums of Art and History (Brussels) and illustrated by C.J.A Jörg in “Chinese Export Porcelain. Chine de Commande from the Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels“, 1989, pp. 84/85, no. 20.

This model is also known in blue and white (one model illustrated bu Howard & Fuchs in Made in China: Export Porcelain from the Leo and Doris Hodroff Collection at Winterthur, pp. 115, no. 66).


The form of this tall coffeepot, sometimes referred to as lighthouse shape, copies English silver pots made between 1680 and 1740. The bird-shape spout is probably inspired by those found on Meissen porcelain teapots and coffeepots from the 1720’s and 1730’s, although the Chinese are known to have used those spouts as well. Lighthouse-shape coffeepots continued to be made in porcelain into the early 1800’s.

The distinctive form of the handle may be loosely related to the handles found on the original silver form that inspired this design. However, D. S. Howard, in A Tale of Three Cities (Sotheby’s 1997), fig. 152, where a similar coffee pot is illustrated, suggests that it could also represent the tail feathers of the bird whose head constitutes the spout.

By appointment only, 10th arrondissement, Paris. / +33 (0)6 26 57 59 87

Be the first to hear about the latest pieces, join the email list.