A rare Chinese shell-shaped ewer and basin reproduced in Octave du Sartel. Yongzheng

Following a silver form and probably painted with a unique decoration, the ewer features a high scroll painted with rouge-de-fer scrolls and a turquoise blue ground of clouds. The sides are adorned with brown and white bands decorated with gilt clouds and sprays of flowers, with the basin similarly decorated.

Period :
Yongzheng (1723-1735)
15.74 in. x 11.81 in. (40 cm x 30 cm)
Reference :


-M. Duvauchel, 34 rue de l'Université, Paris (prior to 1881)
-Reproduced in Octave du Sartel, La porcelaine de Chine, 1881, pl. XXIII, no. 133.
-Reproduced in Walter Bondy, Kang-Hsi - Eine Blüte-Epoche der chinesischen Porzellankunst, 1923, p. 211.

Related works

For an ewer and basin of this form, but decorated in the imari palette, from the Honble. John Spencer (1708-1746), see Christie’s London, The Spencer House sale, 8 July 2010, lot 1013.

A comparable Canton painted enamel ewer and basin are in the collection of the Hermitage Museum, St.Petersburg, illustrated in Tatyana B. Arapova, Chinese Painted Enamels, Moscow, 1988, pl.2

We extend our gratitude to Frédéric Baillet-Bouin for the information conveyed.


Ewers and basins of this shape were first commissioned by private traders in China during the Yongzheng period (1723-1735). This type of basin was frequently used in mid-eighteenth-century Portuguese domestic silverware. The shape of the ewer was inspired by a seventeenth-century metal model, which itself was a descendant of the opulent and elaborate nautilus shell prototypes of the sixteenth century. Although these models of ewers usually date from 1720 to 1740, the directors of the Dutch East India Company ordered similar sets during the Qianlong period (1736-1795). In the Western world, these sets were regarded as luxury items, primarily used for washing hands.

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