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Subject:Help With ID / Date of Cloisonne Vase
Posted By: Pete Wed, Dec 16, 2015 IP:

Cloisonne is not my area of expertise so I figured I would post some photos here and see if any of you Asian Cloisonne collectors could help me out.

The vase is rather heavy at 12 poundsand stands 16" tall. It appears to be brass or bronze. There is a makers or artists mark on bottom which could possibly be Chinese?

Can anyone tell me approximate age? Or better yet identify the mark?? Smiley Happy

It is so difficult to tell new from old these days as there are so many ways to "fake" techniques, patina and styles.

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

Subject:Re: Help With ID / Date of Cloisonne Vase
Posted By: pete Thu, Dec 17, 2015

I was not sure how to edit my post once I posted it and realized that it is Champleve technique and not Cloisonne. After viewing " japanese champleve" on google as you suggested, it seems the one I have is not as well executed and precise in design. The signature on the bottom does not look like Japanese to me and wonder if it was a "faked" mark to appeal to western buyers at the time? Possibly from 1950s or 60s? Do you have any guess as to a possible date range it could have been produced?

Posted By: beadiste Sat, Dec 19, 2015

Pete -

Dates that seem fairly certain:
1) the 1933 Shure catalog showing a variety of the elephant-handled vases
2) Bill H.'s observation about the 1950s U.S. Military's Central Purhasing Office mark, found in this prior thread:

3)Fredric T. Schneider's book The Art of Japanese Cloisonne Enamel has a color photo of one of these 20th century champleve vases attributed to the Koizumi Company. (It's another example of the elephant handles style)

4) In Beatrice Quette's book, Cloisonne: Chinese Enamels from the Yuan, Ming & Ching Dynasties, there is a chapter by Odile Nouvel-Kammerer, "The Revival of Cloisonne Enamel in France at the End of the Nineteenth Century."
This is such a nice exploration of how art is affected by cross-culture transmission, it's worth the price of the book all by itself. But to condense, we could consider how 1870-1900 saw intense production of French champleve, which was displayed at the international expositions fashionable at the time. The Japanese not only exhibited at these expositions, but in their quest to achieve European standards of technological development they developed many new industries as well.

I took a tour through the current Google images displayed for the "champleve Japan," picking out the pieces similar to yours, with floral decoration and a simpler design. The date attributions by the various sellers seem worth ignoring - for example, a "Made In Japan" stamp described as "c1900," when it almost certainly post-dates the 1920 US tariff revisions that required such a country of origin statement.

Bellow are a couple of pictures quoted from this Images search.

Could the nice seal on the base of your vase perhaps indicate that is was made for sale in Japan to foreign tourists during the decades before World War I - 1920s?

Unless someone steps in and demonstrates that similar champleve vases were fashionable in Edo Japan or among Qing mandarins, it seems that the best guess we can make is "Japan, somewhere between 1880 and 1950, to be distinguished from French Belle Epoque productions."

Subject:Re: Dating
Posted By: Pete Sat, Dec 19, 2015

Beadiste - Thank you so much for the detailed and complete analysis of my vase. I never expected such effort. I also scoured google images for "japan champleve" before your response and was able to find all of the examples that you provided except for the very first image you provided. The first image most closely resembles my vase especially when it comes to the colors used and style of flowers. Is it possible to tell me the origin of that photo? An auction House? Pinterest? Ebay? I uploaded that very first photo you provided to google images and came up empty.

Subject:French Japonisme? Japanese Art Nouveau?
Posted By: beadiste Mon, Dec 21, 2015

Pete -

If you do a Google Images search for "Champleve France" you'll see the dragon vase, and can follow the link to the online seller, who describes it as French.

That was my first impression,too - that it was French Japonisme. However, discussing it with another correspondent, I'm now ambivalent.

Note the subtle horizontal sectioning at the collar, shoulder, beneath the mid-section with the dragon. Separately cast pieces?

Also note how the enamel in the cloud diaper has been polished level with the cloisons, but the enamel in the dragon is sunken, which creates a more 3-dimensional effect. How was this accomplished? Was the cloud background filled and fired the usual multiple times to get the glass above the level of the cloisons? The dragon cloisons were filled only once, at the final firing, and miraculously came out perfect? Careful and tedious hand-polishing then ground down the background around the dragon? At any rate, someone knew what they were doing on this one.

Bill's suggested translation for the characters seal seems to make Japanese origin more likely?
Or was it something borrowed by a European artist to make the piece look "Oriental?"

The five toes on the dragon aren't typically Japanese - their dragons usually sport 3 toes.
Usually. Maybe this is an exception, a piece of careful workmanship for an aristocratic and/or wealthy client.

So whether this is French based upon Japanese motifs based upon Chinese motifs... or Japanese based upon Chinese motifs but trying to look fashionably French Art Nouveau... ???

A puzzle.

Subject:Champleve - Japan and 19th Century France could also be considered
Posted By: beadiste Thu, Dec 17, 2015

My first guess would be Japanese, but I just haven't seen enough pieces that can be reliably identified as Chinese. Any at all, come to think of it...

Here's a French champleve dragon vase, for example.

And a Google Image search for "champleve Japan" provides a raft of examples for comparison.

Subject:Re: Help With ID / Date of Cloisonne Vase
Posted By: Bill H Fri, Dec 18, 2015

I believe the characters on Pete's vase are seal script for 延寶, which can be read in Japanese as 'Yempo' or 'Empo', the reign from 1673-1681 in the Edo period. I defer to beadiste and others as to the date to assign the vase.

Best regards,

Bill H.

Subject:Is the Dragon vase French or Japanese?
Posted By: beadiste Sat, Dec 19, 2015

Reviewing the various Google images, I wonder - is it Japanese, or French in the Japanese style, or French in the Chinese style... ??

Anyone have some knowledge about these things, or, failing that, an opinion?

Subject:Re: Help With ID / Date of Cloisonne Vase
Posted By: Dr. Robert I-San Lin Wed, Jun 26, 2019

The two words foundried on the bottom mean "made this treasure". The first word "Zho" means making/made and is an extremely old Chinese word and in that style, it appeared as early as late Shan early Zhou (ca. 1300 to 1100 BC) on Chinese bronzes that I collect (I've over 300 bronzes of this period.) The 2nd word Bau means treasure, it started about hundred years later in this style. The presence of these words does not mean that the vase is very old, as I have bronzes made about 120 years ago that have similar words in the same style, in addition to other words. Japanese cloisonne wares do not have these very old style Chinese words. From the photos it perhaps was made about 200 to 300 years ago; but this could be wrong. I need to touch, hold, and exam the internal structure to help you decide the age. Am one of the three Senior Appraisers of China's Commission on Artworks Authentication. You can reach me at [email protected]

Subject:Re: Help With ID / Date of Cloisonne Vase
Posted By: Bill H Fri, Jun 28, 2019

Thank you Dr. Lin for the scholarly input. I gather that your characters for "Made this Treasure" would be "作寶" ('zuo bao; in pinyin). This "Zuo" also seems to have near or exact counterparts to the first character on the vase in oracle bone, bronze and liushutong forms found on the etymology website.

Much obliged,

Bill H. | Associations | Articles | Exhibitions | Galleries |