He typically worked using the pale gradations of black and coloured enamels in imitation of literati landscape painting, here depicting a bird and flowers on two sides, and a riverside landscape and an elderly scholar-recluse to the others.
All four sides are inscribed to include the seals and signatures of the artist’s various sobriquets: Xueli, Songzhu and Liweng. One inscription also carries the wuyin year date for 1878, dating this to the fourth year of the young Guangxhu emperor when China was under the regency of Empress Dowager Cixi.
Once largely ignored by the cognoscenti, artist-decorated wares from the late Qing and Republic periods are now among the most desirable of all Chinese porcelains. The qianjiangcai palette of enamels became necessary after the destruction of the Jingdezhen kilns following the Taiping rebellion in the 1850s.
Estimated to sell for $5000-7000 at Bonhams in Los Angeles on December 17, this vase made $120,000 (£92,300) plus buyer’s premium. It represents a very substantial price. In 2015, the same saleroom offered what is perhaps the largest piece known by Cheng Men, a massive 2ft 2in (65cm) qianjiangcai ‘Hundred Deer’ vase with an inscription dated 1877. It sold at $55,000.