Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Bronzes of the Ming and Qing Dynasty

Bronzes of the Ming and Qing Dynasty

History of Chinese Ming and Qing Bronzes, periods of elegance

During the Ming Dynasty a real revival began in the making of Chinese bronzes,  often referred to as The Second Bronze Age. During this period bronzes were simplified with more attention being paid to perfection of shape and elegance.  The skills with which they were made reached astounding levels of refinement. This trend continued into the Qing period lasting until the start of the 19th C.  when the overall quality of many Chinese Arts began to slip and stagnate relying more on copying older forms of everything from porcelain, silks, to carvings and bronze work.

For more on later bronzes and auction results visit our other Blog:

"Chinese Bronze Values Song-Yuan-Ming to Qing Dynasty"


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Over the years here in New England we've been fortunate enough to have seen and handled similar examples to those found on this page on many occasions.  If you have any of these we would be pleased to see images of yours.

Bronzes of the Ming and Qing Dynasty
Chinese Ming Dynasty Gilt Splashed Bronze.
Created with the lost wax method, the bowl-shaped burner comes with an original waisted stand with cusped openings. The shoulder is carved in high relief with animal masks suspending loose rings. At the base is a Xuande mark in seal script within a square. The burner originally had a coat in "crimson cloud red", but as it aged, it has taken on a yellowish-brown patina that is not unlike the colour of the faded papers of ancient scriptures. The entire piece, as well as the stand, is covered with small, irregular splashes of gold. Cast of high quality bronze, this beautiful piece is particularly substantial in weight and is valued for its brilliant sheen, and is regarded as "even more valuable than pure gold".

<img src="Ming Bronze.jpg" alt="Gilt bronze Incense burner ">
Chinese Ming Dynasty Gilt Splashed Xuande marked Bronze
This burner with animal masks is cast using the lost wax method. Dull brown in colour, it is covered all over with irregular splashes of gold. The base is impressed with a Xuande six-character mark within a square in regular script. The colour of the bronze has a jewel tone, a result of over ten rounds of smelting. Width: 12cm
Height: 8.4cm
<img src="Ming Bronze.jpg" alt="Footed incense burner ">
Ming Dynasty Footed Incense Burner
The bulbous body raised on three cabriole and lion mask supports, cast around the sides with cranes flanking shou characters alternating with wan emblems positioned above lingzhi sprigs rising from a rock and wave border, with further shou characters below each of the curved upright handles, with a band of bosses between diaper borders on the neck and classic scroll encircling the side of the everted rim, the copper cover with three rounded, stepped registers, the lowest pierced with the Eight Trigrams, the middle with wan emblems and the upper with cash symbols, all below a bud-form finial, traces of gilding overall. Height: 66cm
<img src="Ming Incense Burner.jpg" alt="Incense Burner of Bronze Stand ">
Ming Dynasty Incense Burner on bronze leaf form base.
Lip slightly splayed, constricted neck, flanked by pair of twisted handles, drum belly, three articulated feet, base with four character Xuande mark in seal script. Diameter: 20cm
<img src="Ming Bronze.jpg" alt="Gilt relief worked bronze Incense burner ">
Elaborate Relief Work Gilt Bronze, Ming Dynasty
The incense burner is in the shape of a compressed rectangular bowl with an openwork lid and four ruyi legs. The body of the vessel is carved in high relief with a dragon emerging from the frothing waves. The four corners of the lid are carved with ruyi heads. On the lid are two prancing dragons flying among auspicious clouds culminating to form the finial. The piece is cast by using the lost wax method. The dragons and the clouds are partly gilded. The bottom is clearly inscribed in regular script with the gilt-highlighted characters "made during the Xuande period of the Ming Dynasty". Width: 18cm
Height: 16cm
<img src="Ming Bronze.jpg" alt="Gilt bronze Incense burner ">
Very Rare Carved and Gilded Ming period Incense Burner.
Signed Hu Wenming in seal script. The gui shaped gilded burner, with handles separately cast and attached, is decorated in three bands. The neck and the ring foot are carved in relief with gilded taotie and flying phoenixes on a background of tortoise shell pattern. Width: 19.8cm, Height: 8.2cm
Documentary Ming Bronze Chinese Cultural relic.
Inscribed Ming Period Bronze
The body of compressed globular form rising to a rounded rim, the sides crisply cast with a pair of lion-mask handles, the base cast with a sixteen-character inscription incorporating an apocryphal Xuande date, reading Da Ming Xuande wunian Jiandu Gongbu guanchen Wu Bangzuo zao (Made by Wu Bangzuo, supervisor of the Ministry of Works, in the 5th year of Xuande of the Great Ming).
<img src="Ming Bronze.jpg" alt="Gilt bronze Incense burner with elephant feet ">
Fine Ming Period Gilt bronze.
The deep, waisted body raised on three elephant-head supports and set with a pair of angular loop handles with fluted sides and ruyi head-capped corners, splashed in gold in contrast to the reddish-olive patina, the base cast with an apocryphal Xuande mark. Across Handles: 11cm
Yuan period Bronze Brush rest
Chinese Yuan Period Bronze Brush Washer.
The brushrest, cast using the lost wax method, is in the shape of three peaks carved in high relief and openwork. The middle peak stands taller than the rest. The brushrest sits on a rectangular stand with cusped edgings and six feet in the form of ruyi heads. The piece is heavily decorated with lotus flowers and leaves, with eighteen egrets among them, all with different postures. The exquisite craftsmanship distinguishes this brushrest as a rare work of art. Width: 18cm
Height: 7.2cm
Ming Bronze with Zitan lid
Fine Ming Period Incense Burner with handles.
Rising from high zui dragon feet, the rectangular body flanked with tapering handles, each side with medallion enclosing plum trees, the zitan cover elegantly carved with flower scroll, small jade figure of a deer eating a lingzhi on top as handle. Diameter: 25cm
Zhengde period, Ming Dynasty Bronze
Stamped Zhengde six-character mark and of the period (1506-1521). Flanked with a pair of ear-shaped handles under a flattened rim, the exterior with two medallions each enclosing Arabian script. Diameter: 20.5 cm
Qing Dynasty Cast Bronze
Qing Dynasty Bronze with Jade finial.
Rising from three finely cast feet to a slightly everted mouth rim flanked with a pair of upright handles, wood cover with three ruyi heads in openwork supporting a white jade lotus-shape handle, bronze tripod stand in lotus shape. Diameter: 12.8 cm
Qing bronze Hand Warmer
Qing Dynasty Bronze Hand Warmer.
Flanked by a movable bronze handle, with a pierced metal cover, The hand warmers were used in winter to keep warm, filled with burning coals. They were made of bronze, other metal, cloisonne or painted enamel. Diameter: 26cm
Ming Dynasty Archaic From Gilt bronze Incense Burner
Ming Dynasty Gilt Bronze Incense Burner.
Of archaic form, flanked by a pair of handles in the shape of a dragon's head, the exterior with dragons and mythical animals amidst flames, all against a light-incised wave ground and between a floral scroll band around the mouth rim and another classic scroll around the foot. Diameter: 25cm

Kangxi Period bronze Incense Burner
Kangxi Incense Burner, Circa 1700, Early Qing Dynasty
Of circular shape resting on three feet, two lion's heads as handles, a band of bosses above the base and further bosses below the rim between a horizontal rib and the slightly thickened mouth rim.
Kangxi Gilt Bronze Seal
Kangxi Period Gilt Bronze Seal Set, circa 1700

Kangxi Period Seals from Set (above)