Pair of bowls

DATE: 1736-1780 (made)
PLACE: China (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Bronze with champlevé enamels

These tea bowls were made during the mid-18th century and at one time belonged to a Chinese Emperor. Both have labels on the underside reading: ‘Taken from Summer Palace Pekin 1860’, indicating that they were looted from the palace during the events that ended the Second Opium War (1856-60). In October 1860, French and British troops stormed, looted and destroyed the Summer Palace and Old Summer Palace in what is now Beijing. A number of items taken at this time have subsequently entered various international collections. The provenance of these bowls suggests that during the Qianlong Period such cups were not made solely for export to Europe but were also appreciated in Imperial China.