The five piece garniture with three lidded baluster jars alternating with two sleeve vases,
each depicting two Chinese gentlemen in fenced garden
(one likely a teacher or scholar,
the other a boy holding and upright lotus),
sided by hollow rocks with berries (probably prunus) and large banana leaves;
a sun above and a crescent moon on the reverse
The exact purpose of these small early Chinese porcelains is debated.
Some report them as being used for medicine. They are often described as "toy" porcelains,
being use in period doll houses, as well as display in wall cabinets.
Whatever the original concept, they hold a unique charm among early Chinese ceramics.
Collecting miniatures was a favorite among aristocracy.
Among the influences was the miniature Mogul painting that flowed into Eastern Europe in the 1500's.
This affection moved quickly to The Netherlands and thence into England during the reign of Mary II (1689 -1694).
It is said that Her rooms at Kensington Palace were decorated with many small vases on displayed on gilded brackets
and on little ledges, and on any and every available surface. Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) stated :
"The Queen (Mary) brought in the custom or humour, as I may call it,
of furnishing houses with China-ware, which increased to a strange degree afterwards,
piling their China upon the tops of cabinets, scrutores, and every chymney-piece,
to the top of the ceilings, and every setting up of shelves for their China-ware,
where they wanted such places, till it became a grievance in the experience of it,
and even injurious to their families and estates".
I have also read that some of first museums on the Continent were begun to house these small porcelain collections,
as their owners died and wanted the valuable porcelains to remain safe and honored in time.
I cannot substantiate this information, but it is indeed an interesting concept
Condition : Excellent with usual expected frits and firing flaws
Height : The Tallest, 4.75"