Handsome Chinese Fishbowls in Porcelain

On 12 November 2020, by Anne Doridou-Heim

In their porcelain universe, little goldfish go around in circles.

€15,937
China, second half of 19th century. Porcelain aquarium decorated with precious Buddhist and Daoist objects in shallow relief and polychrome, h. 40 cm (approx. 15.7 in.), dia. 46 cm (approx. 18.1 in.).
Paris, Drouot, April 4, 2018. Delon-Hoebanx auction house. Cabinet Portier & Associés

Goldfish are native to China, where they resulted from a natural mutation developed through breeding in ponds in the 7th and 8th centuries. During the Song dynasty (960-1279), it was forbidden to either catch or eat them. In 1162, a stone-bordered pond was built near the imperial palace; much later, during the Ming period, the first aquarium appeared, under the Wanli Emperor (1572-1620). The fashion caught on, and soon every residence belonging to the Chinese elite had to have its own fishbowl to house these small "wonders of heaven" (as scholars called them), synonymous with prosperity. They were brought to European shores for the first time in the early 18th century by the Portuguese, established in Macao. In the following century, Madame de Pompadour (whose maiden name happened to be "Poisson", or "fish") was wild about them!

€2,560China, period of the Republic, Minguo (1912-1949). Polychrome and gilt enameled porcelain aquarium with fish and seaweed decoration,

€2,560
China, period of the Republic, Minguo (1912-1949). Polychrome and gilt enameled porcelain aquarium with fish and seaweed decoration, h. 64 cm (approx. 25.2 in.), dia. 54 cm (approx. 21.2 in.).
Paris, Drouot, December 12, 2019. Delon-Hoebanx auction house. Cabinet Portier & Associés.

€5,250China, 19th century. Porcelain aquarium decorated in Famille verte style with birds and butterflies, h. 46 cm (approx. 18.1 in.), di

€5,250
China, 19th century. Porcelain aquarium decorated in Famille verte style with birds and butterflies, h. 46 cm (approx. 18.1 in.), dia. 50 cm (approx. 19.7 in.).
Lyon, October 30, 2019. De Baecque & Associés auction house.


 

It is said they were so important that the emperors of China looked after their small lodgers themselves.


 

€4,750China, early 20th century. Porcelain aquarium decorated in polychrome enamels with dragons on the outside and fish inside, h. 41.5 c

€4,750
China, early 20th century. Porcelain aquarium decorated in polychrome enamels with dragons on the outside and fish inside, h. 41.5 cm (approx. 16.3 in.), dia. 45.5 cm (approx. 17.9 in.)
Paris, Drouot, June 14, 2019. KLF-Catherine Kalck, Guillaume Le Floc'h auction house. Cabinet Portier & Associés.

€1,054China, late 19th-early 20th century. Porcelain aquarium embellished with birds on branches and longevity peaches, the interior decor

€1,054
China, late 19th-early 20th century. Porcelain aquarium embellished with birds on branches and longevity peaches, the interior decorated with goldfish among seaweed, h. 35 cm (approx. 13.7 in.), dia. 40 cm (approx. 15.7 in.).
Paris, Drouot, October 15, 2019. Drouot Estimations auction house.


€1,084China, late 19th century. Famille verte porcelain aquarium with dragon and carp decoration, h. 42 cm (approx. 16.5 in.), dia. 45.5 c

€1,084
China, late 19th century. Famille verte porcelain aquarium with dragon and carp decoration, h. 42 cm (approx. 16.5 in.), dia. 45.5 cm (approx. 17.9 in.).
Paris, Drouot, June 21, 2017. Aguttes auction house. Ms. Prévot

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