Black Enamel Chinese Cloisonne Vase with Butterfly Motif in Brass Wire | 1920
Shown is a beautifully proportioned Black Chinese Cloisonne’ vase, ca. 1920. Fine wire cloison work enclosing a black profusely decorated enamel ground, with a overall ornate pattern. The motifs incorporated are a stylized butterfly, flowers and a vine or fern-like overall pattern. No stamp or marks. The piece is in excellent condition with no repairs, cracks, or chips, or missing enamel. Dimensions: 4-3/4 dia. (shoulder) x 8-3/4”h.
Among the wide variety of artistic expressions of China, Cloisonné, also called Fa Lang, is perhaps the most comprehensive, traditional enameling technique combining high-level craftsmanship in bronze. The technique originated in the Middle East. However, upon its arrival in China in the 13-14th centuries, it found significant potential for expansion among the Beijing elite, including scholars and artisans. During the Ming Dynasty year, (1368-1644), cloisonné enamel reached a high level of complexity and sophistication.
The term “cloisonné” refers to the technique as well as to the finished product. It comes from the French word “cloison” which means “partition”. The metal filigree creates small compartments that are filled with enamel paste made of glass powder colored with metallic oxide ingredients, which is then fired, similar to how ceramics were produced. Finally, the piece is polished until the bright metal filigree becomes clearly visible. The combined brightness of the metal and the color of the enamel results in a finish with great harmony and sophistication. The entire process of a finished piece involves an average of 37 steps.