Lot 251. A 'famille-rose' 'One hundred deer' vase (hu), Qianlong seal mark and period (1736-1795); height 17 in., 43 cm. Estimate 100,000—150,000 USD - Lot Sold 362,500 USD. Photo Sotheby's 2010
of archaistic hu form, the generously rounded sides finely painted with a continuous scene of a herd of deer in a mountainous landscape, the stags, bucks, doe, and fawns painted white, red, brown, and sometimes with spotted fur prancing and grazing, all amidst fruiting peach trees, lingzhi, and twisted pine trees, the wide neck set with a pair of stylized iron-red zoomorphic handles with gilt details
Provenance: Sotheby's New York, 21st January 1982, lot 459.
Christie's New York, 5th June 1986, lot 359
Note: Vases of this highly complex and exquisitely composed design can be found in major museums and private collections worldwide; compare an example from the Qing Court collection and in the Palace Museum, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Porcelains with Cloisonné Enamel Decoration and Famille Rose Decoration, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 85.
The design on this vase is rich with auspicious meaning; in Chinese tradition the deer is symbolic of longevity due to being the only animal capable of finding the lingzhi fungus of immortality, and is thus often depicted with Shoulao, the God of Longevity. 'Hundred deer' (bai lu) is homophonous with hundred emoluments and represents the wish, 'May you receive the hundred emoluments from heaven'.
Sotheby's. Fine Ceramics and works of Art. 15 Sept 2010. New York