Rare pair of Chinese Vases and Covers, decorated in the Giles studio, hard paste porcelain, c.1750-60


Prior to their arrival in London in the middle part of the 18th-century, this fine and rare pair of Chinese export vases would have been entirely devoid of painted decoration. Each of the 'honeycomb' reticulated sides were subsequently decorated with shaped panels reserved on a turquoise ground, the panels finely painted with bouquets of European flowers, including tulips with divergent petals, and roses. These panels take the form of various auspicious emblems, including that of a double gourd, representing longevity in Chinese symbolism. The shoulders and neck are decorated with smaller reserves containing an alternate sprig and insect.

Roses with rounded petals and tulips are characteristic of Giles's work, belonging to the group of 'Type B' flower decoration, as identified by Bernard Watney. Hairy caterpillars with a red stripe and butterflies with dots on the wings are also representative of the work of the Giles studio. Meissen deutsche Blumen is the likely source of inspiration for this style of flower painting.

The hexagonal covers, painted with scattered sprigs, are both lined with a chocolate brown rim and topped with pale magenta flower terminals. The bases, painted with floral sprigs, have six designs cut out, possibly in the shape of a stylised bat. In Chinese symbolism the bat represents happiness and joy. The Chinese for bat (fu) sounds identical to the word for good fortune.

Provenance: The Adele Bloom Collection, Palm Beach, Florida.

Condition: Excellent, with no restoration and no wear to the beautifully painted decoration. There are small losses to the flower terminals, and a small flat chip to the underside flange of one of the covers, as well as one or two short hairlines to the lower supports. The undersides show firing cracks where the clay shrank during production, and the vases have a very slight lean from manufacture, due to the difficult nature of firing large vessels. There are also glaze blemishes and slight differences in colour, due to the firing and re-firing processes.

Dimensions: Height (to top of finials) 35.5 cm

Ref. The use of turquoise and pale magenta enamels also occurs on a Chinese figure of a lady, possibly an Immortal. This figure, formerly in the Godden Collection, is similarly painted with Giles 'Type B' flowers. See Bonhams, London, 20 May 2015, lot 50.

The Early James Giles and his Contemporary London Decorators, Stephen Hanscombe (Stockspring Antiques Publications, 2008).

James Giles, China and Glass Painter, Stephen Hanscombe (Stockspring Antiques Publications, 2005).

In Search of James Giles, Gerald Coke (Micawber Publications, 1983).

Bertrand's Toyshop in Bath: Luxury Retailing 1685-1765, Vanessa Brett (Oblong, 2014).


Click on thumbnail above to see larger image