A very rare and large Chinese en grisaille tea bowl and saucer (Fable by Aesop). Qianlong

The tea bowl and the saucer are decorated en grisaille, with a scene of a peacock at a figure in clouds, with a gilt border on the rim.

Period :
Qianlong (12736-1795), circa 1745
5.31 in. saucer (13.5 cm)
Reference :

Related works

This decoration appears to be very rare. Another tea bowl (without saucer) is in the Thomas Lurie Collection.

Our sincere thanks to Will Motley to have identified the scene and shared with us his researches.


This scene depicts Juno in a cloud looking down on a peacock and a small bird on a branch. These are the characters in a fable by Aesop, the peacock who complained that he had a terrible voice and was jealous of the nightingale’s singing voice. Juno replies to him that one cannot have everything in life. One must use the gifts one has been given and should content with what he had. 

The pathway for this design is complicated. This is probably adapted from a print by Aegidius Sadeler (1570-1629), after a 1567 series by Marcus Gheeraerts (1520-1590) published in Bruges by Pieter de Clerck, though this image is derived from an image by Virgil Solis from a Frankfurt edition of 1566. Sadeler re-engraved the Gheerhaerts series for his Theatrum Morum, produced in 1609. There were several new editions in the 17th century and Gheeraerts’ images were widely copied.

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

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