A pair of famille rose porcelain owls
Jiajing period, circa 1800 AD, Chinese export
清嘉靖, 約1800年, 中國外銷瓷
Height: 26cm, 10.3 inches
高: 26 釐米
Both birds are perched on high green and black enamelled pierced rockwork bases. They stare with wide open eyes – their faces yellow, and chests washed in pink-white enamel. Their heads, wings and fanning tail feathers are decorated in a vibrant green – with further plumage on the wings in yellow, blue and rose enamel tones.
This model is clearly based on a European original and – as Howard and Ayers point out – the closest seems to be a scop owl (made at Longton Hall in England circa 1755) with the characteristic ear tufts and the prominently delineated chests.
The owls are a rare model with less than a handful of known examples.
The pair came from the Marguerite Dorment Collection, was purchased from the Doyle New York in 2001.
A pair is illustrated in ‘China for the West’ by Howard and Ayers, from the Mottahedeh Collection; these are dated 1760-1780 but we feel that a date of circa 1800 is more accurate with this enamel palette.