An Unfinished Chinese Export porcelain Tureen and Cover, Qianlong c.1770 – 1785

A rare Chinese export porcelain tureen and cover, late Qianlong period c.1770-1785. The typical rectangular form with canted corners has ‘rabbit-head’ handles and a scroll shaped finial. Painted with a scroll and leaves in under-glaze cobalt blue the design is clearly incomplete.


The finial has been re-stuck and has an associated glaze crack c.37 mm. The ear to one of the rabbits has the end missing. The interior of the tureen is crazed through use.
Width : 34.5 cm (13 1/2 inches)
Stock number



It is difficult perhaps to speculate on the reason for this tureen to be exported to the West without the over-glaze enamels that would have made sense of the design. Perhaps merchants purchased it prior to it's enamel decoration because a specific order was late and they hoped to get European enamellers to decorate it once they got back from China. This seems unlikely as this tureen would have been part of a service.

A number of individual pieces of Chinese export porcelain lacking the intended over-glaze are known but as far as I am aware there are no services like this. There are quite a few pieces of somewhat earlier Japanese porcelain known without the intended over-glaze decoration. That is perhaps as some of them had over-glaze lacquer added in Europe, so the fact they were unfinished is more likely to have been intentional.