A_rare_and_large_blue_and_white__soldier__vase_and_cover

A_rare_and_large_blue_and_white__soldier__vase_and_cover2

A_rare_and_large_blue_and_white__soldier__vase_and_cover3

A rare and large blue and white 'soldier' vase and cover. Kangxi. Photo Bonhams

The vase of tall baluster form rising to the high shoulder, waisted neck and everted rim, well painted in shades of lighter and darker blue with four panels divided by narrow borders enclosing white morning glory scrolls, the panels painted with two scenes of ladies and boys at play in a fenced garden by a pavilion with well detailed interior, alternating with two scenes of boys behind fences watching two jousting mounted warriors, all between the shoulders with a zigzag cross-hatched band and demi-flower heads, and a border below enclosing roundels reserved on a cracked-ice ground above pendent stiff leaves and a narrow band of zigzag cross-hatched design, the neck with upright and pendant lobed petals, the domed cover with a 'pearl' finial painted with lappets, encircled by four groups of precious objects and a zigzag cross-hatched band, the base with red-lacquered Moritzburg inventory no. II.A. 8a, wood stand. 106.6cm (42in) high (3). Sold for £240,000

Provenance: Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland (1670-1733), probably housed in the Japanese Palace, Dresden
Thence by descent in the Royal Collections of Saxony
Probably moved from the Japanese Palace to the Johanneum in 1876
Property of the Free State of Saxony, 1918
Restituted to the former Royal family of Saxony (Haus Wettin, Albertinische Linie e.v.) in 1924 as part of the agreement with the State of Saxony ("Gesetz über die Auseinandersetzung zwischen dem Freistate Sachsen und dem vormalign Königshause. Vom 21. Juli 1924"; 'Law of the Dispute between the Free State of Saxony and the former Royal house. Of 21 July 1924')
Probably moved to Schloss Moritzburg, Saxony, circa 1925 (bearing the Schloss Moritzburg inventory red-lacquered no. II.A 8a)

This 'Soldier' vase, also known as 'Dragoon vase', which stands over one metre high, owes its exceptionally unusual and centuries-old reputation to an idea of Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland (1670-1733). In the summer of 1715 he was pondering on how he could solve two problems at the same time: on the one hand, to reduce the size of his army following the Great Northern War and, as was customary, offering it to another prince for purchase, and on the other hand, instead of being paid with money, to accept Asian porcelain in payment. After all, instead of merely filling a porcelain cabinet with these costly works of art, he had plans to fill a whole palace with them in order to elevate his position in royal circles.

He casually happened to mention this 'notion' to his governor in Dresden, which actually meant that, despite some misgivings, the 'idea' had to be turned into reality as quickly as possible. Augustus the Strong had probably remembered that, on a visit to King Frederick I of Brandenburg and Prussia in 1709, he had seen the vast treasures in the porcelain cabinet at the palaces of Oranienburg and Charlottenburg, and that the latter's successor, Frederick William I, deemed all inherited magnificence and art superficial, preferring instead to increase the size of his army.

Thus it came about that negotiations for the exchange of porcelain and soldiers took place. Finally, on 29 April 1717, a delivery list for 90 pieces of porcelain from the Palace of Oranienburg was issued and on the next day, 1 May 1717, another list of 61 items of porcelain from the Palace of Charlottenburg, bringing the overall total to 151 items. On the same day, 600 Dragoon soldiers without horses and officers crossed the border at Baruth between Saxony and Brandenburg-Prussia. On the advice of Frederick William I, the exchange – which had a monetary value of 26,000 thalers – took the form of a quite ordinary ritual and was declared a 'gift' between the two royals.

The Charlottenburg porcelains included "12 tall vases, 7 of which had lids and 5 of which were without". As the twelve vases were described in the Charlottenburg delivery list as 'tall', rather than the more customary 'large', they may well have been the original monumental Dragoon vases of over a meter in height. The term was also used in travel reports of the 18th century. In 1723 Augustus the Strong acquired further monumental blue-and-white decorated lidded vases of the same type, also commonly referred to as 'Dragoon vases', which were placed in the 'Dutch Palace' (the Holländisches Palais, subsequently known as the Japanese Palace) until 1726 and then in the Tower room of the Royal Residence, the Japanese Palace and finally in the Johanneum, before finally ending up in the porcelain collection in the Zwinger in Dresden, their numbers by now depleted by the war.

Six 'Dragoon vases' were auctioned off as part of the nationalisation of the Dresden art collections in 1918-1920, through Rudolph Lepke's auction house in Berlin. With the expropriation of the nobility and royal houses in Germany in 1924, and the so-called Unification Treaty, 'Law of the Dispute between the Free State of Saxony and the former Royal house' of 21 July 1924, the House of Wettin Albertinian Line acquired two further vases, one of which is most likely to be the present Bonhams vase. The vase was either sold or gifted by House of Wettin at a later date, as other gifts of porcelain are known.

It is possible that the present vase was one of the seven monumental lidded vases in the Charlottenburg delivery of 1 May 1717, three of which, more baluster-shaped and painted all-round, have survived and are on display in the Dresden Zwinger.

See a related blue and white 'soldier' vase, but with a different painted design and without a cover, sold at Sotheby's London, 10 November 2010, lot 90.
 

A_fine_and_large_blue_and_white_rouleau_vase

A fine and large blue and white rouleau vase. Kangxi. Photo Bonhams

Boldly potted and decorated all around the tall cylindrical body with extensive moonlit riverscapes. 72.5cm (28½in) high. Sold for £180,000

Provenance: an English private collection

Note: Compare a blue and white rouleau vase, Kangxi, of similar size and form, and another of similar design, but smaller, from the Palace Museum, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Blue and White Porcelain with Underglazed Red (II), Hong Kong, 2000, pls.14 and 15. See also a similarly painted large blue and white rouleau vase from the Shanghai Museum, illustrated by Wang Qingzheng, ed., in Underglaze Blue & Red, Hong Kong, 1987, pl.186. A blue and white rouleau vase of similar size and form, but painted with mounted warriors, Kangxi, was sold at Christie's New York, 30 March 2005, lot 360.

A_rare_large_blue_and_white_rouleau_vase

A rare large blue and white rouleau vase. Kangxi. Photo Bonhams

Boldy and brightly decorated all around the body with figures in extensive mountainous landscapes. 76.5cm (30in) high. Sold for £156,000

Provenance: an English private collection

Note: Compare a blue and white rouleau vase, Kangxi, of similar size and form, and another of similar design, but smaller, from the Palace Museum, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Blue and White Porcelain with Underglazed Red (II), Hong Kong, 2000, pls.14 and 15. See also a similarly painted large blue and white rouleau vase from the Shanghai Museum, illustrated by Wang Qingzheng, ed., in Underglaze Blue & Red, Hong Kong, 1987, pl.186. A blue and white rouleau vase of similar size and form, but painted with mounted warriors, Kangxi, was sold at Christie's New York, 30 March 2005, lot 360.
.

A_fine_large_blue_and_white_rouleau_vase

A fine large blue and white rouleau vase. Kangxi. Photo Bonhams

Boldly painted in a dark vivid blue all around the body with moonlit riverscapes, small figures in crafts in the foreground and pairs of figures idly conversing on the zigzag river bank beneath clouds eddying around mountain peaks. 72cm (29 1/8in) high. Sold for £90,000

Provenance: an English private collection

Note: Compare a blue and white rouleau vase, Kangxi, of similar size and form, and another of similar design, but smaller, from the Palace Museum, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Blue and White Porcelain with Underglazed Red (II), Hong Kong, 2000, pls.14 and 15. See also a similarly painted large blue and white rouleau vase from the Shanghai Museum, illustrated by Wang Qingzheng, ed., in Underglaze Blue & Red, Hong Kong, 1987, pl.186. A blue and white rouleau vase of similar size and form, but painted with mounted warriors, Kangxi, was sold at Christie's New York, 30 March 2005, lot 360.

A_large_blue_and_white_cylindrical_brushpot__bitong

A large blue and white cylindrical brushpot, bitong. Kangxi. Photo Bonhams

Delicately painted all around the body with a pavilion interior, an elegant lady and her five attendants greeting a kneeling figure and with others bearing draped trays, all beside a large banana tree. 18.5cm (7¼in) diam. Sold for £25,200

Provenance: an English private collection

A_blue_and_white_brushpot__bitong

A blue and white brushpot, bitong. Kangxi. Photo Bonhams

Painted around the body with a lady approaching a scholar in front of a screen and table laden with books on one side, the other with an Immortal flying above waves towards two sages on a cloud raft, wood stand, fitted box. 19cm (7½in) diam. (3). Sold for £24,000

A_large_blue_and_white_baluster_vase

A large blue and white baluster vase. Shunzhi/early Kangxi. Photo Bonhams

Boldly painted with a large long-tailed mythical bird crouched aggressively on a high rocky outcrop beneath dense tree peony clusters coiling around the side, and a large bamboo stand, the reverse with three flying smaller birds. 37.5cm (14¾in) high. Sold for £19,200

Provenance: an English private collection

A_very_large_blue_and_white_baluster_vase

A very large blue and white baluster vase. Kangxi. Photo Bonhams

Boldly painted on the larger lower section with blue-ground pendent panels, the shoulder with four roundels of archaistic vessels, the flaring neck with smaller cloud-collar lappets en suite to the body. 96.5cm (38in) high. Sold for £19,200

Note: Kangxi period vases of this very large form and with this decoration are extremely rare. Compare, however, a related pair of double-gourd vases and cover (the largest 95cm high) painted in underglaze-blue and copper-red with a similar design, sold at Sotheby's London, 10 November 2004, lot 628, where the catalogue footnote mentions that correspondence with Dr Eva Strober, curator of the Oriental Department in Dresden, has confirmed that five other vases of this form and painting are recorded in the 1721 inventory list of the collection of Augustus the Strong.

A_pair_of_small_blue_and_white_flaring_vases__gu

A pair of small blue and white flaring vases, gu. Kangxi. Photo Bonhams

Unusually painted with similar designs on the flaring upper section depicting a lady in a wheeled throne accompanied by three elegant assistants and musicians behind her, the central section with a continuous riverscape, the flaring lower section with a sage and attendant, wood stands. 24.5cm (9¾in) high (4). Sold for £19,200

Provenance: an English private collection

A_blue_and_white_bottle_vase

A blue and white bottle vase. Xuande six-character mark, Kangxi. Photo Bonhams

Densely painted all over the compressed globular body and tall trumpet neck with aster flowers in a tight leafy meander interrupted only by a relief-moulded rib around the neck. 39.5cm (15½in) high. Sold for £18,000

Provenance: an English private collection

untitled

A rare blue and white 'European-design' wineglass cooler, monteith. Kangxi. Photo Bonhams

Very unusually potted in the shape of its European silver or metal prototype as a circular bowl with the rim cut with eight large semi-circles, each intended to hold a wine glass with the upper part inverted in crushed ice, the centre of the bowl painted with three archaistic vases of flowers, the exterior with four similar reserves of vessels dividing four cartouches of shrubs. 32.5cm (12¾in) wide. Sold for £14,400

Note; Monteiths, such as the present example, were clearly copied from English silver examples. Compare a similar monteith, dated to circa 1715, from the Hodroff Collection, illustrated by D.S.Howard, The Choice of the Private Trader, London, 1994, p.190, fig.218. See another in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, dated to circa 1715-1720, illustrated by C.Le Corbeiller, China Trade Porcelain: Patterns of Exchange, New York, 1974, pp.36-7. Compare also a related Kangxi period monteith, sold at Christie's New York, 21-22 January 1998, lot 135.

A_blue_and_white_bomb__incense_burner

A blue and white bombé incense burner. Kangxi. Photo Bonhams

Unusually decorated around the exterior with four luohan, each seated on a carpet and holding his attribute, each named at the side in a simple inscription. 21.5cm (8½in) wide. Sold for £14,400

Provenance: an English private collection

A_blue_and_white_flaring_beaker_vase__gu

A blue and white flaring beaker vase, gu. Kangxi. Photo Bonhams

The flaring upper section painted with a continuous riverscape depicting two men in a sampan and two men on a terrace, the barrel-shaped centre with torn-off leafy sprays, the spreading lower part with two men in a punt. 44.5cm (17½in) high. Sold for £14,400

A_blue_and_white__hawthorn_pattern__baluster_vase

A blue and white 'hawthorn-pattern' baluster vase. Kangxi. Photo Bonhams

Boldly painted on the baluster body and trumpet neck with dense cracked-ice design reserved with irregular clusters of white plum blossom scattered across it, emblematic of the plum blossoming before winter has ended. 46.5cm (18¼in) high. Sold for £13,200

Provenance: an English private collection

Three_blue_and_white_globular_jars

untitled

Three blue and white globular jars. Kangxi. Photo Bonhams

Variously painted on the broad rounded bodies with elegant groups of ladies attended by parcel and fan bearers in front of screens, one jar with two pairs of ladies surrounded by groups of playing children, one wood cover. All about 20.5cm (8in) wide (4). Sold for £12,000

Provenance: an English private collection

A_blue_and_white_cylindrical_brushpot__bitong

A_blue_and_white_cylindrical_brushpot__bitong2

A blue and white cylindrical brushpot, bitong. Kangxi, four-character hall mark. Photo Bonhams

Unusually painted around the exterior with approximately 20 pad-footed coiling, striding and snarling chilongs, mostly moving to the left, their heads variously painted as phoenix, elephant and dragon heads in different manifestations, wood stand. 18.7cm (7in) diam. (2). Sold for £9,600

A_pair_of_large_blue_and_white_flaring_vases

A pair of large blue and white flaring vases. Kangxi. Photo Bonhams

Boldly painted with different moonlit landscapes, a fisherman in the foreground and figures variously riding across a bridge and kneeling on a terrace. 48.5cm (19in) high (2). Sold for £9,600

Provenance: an English private collection

A_pair_of_blue_and_white_baluster_vases_and_covers

A pair of blue and white baluster vases and covers. Kangxi. Photo Bonhams

Brightly painted in a rich dark blue around the body with an extensive cluster of blossoming prunus and chrysanthemum issuing from jagged rocky outcrops, the covers with torn-off sprays of prunus and lotus. 34cm (13¼in) high (4). Sold for £9,600

Provenance: an English private collection

A_pair_of_blue_and_white_flaring_vases

A pair of blue and white flaring vases. Kangxi. Photo Bonhams

The baluster bodies strongly painted with four panels of alternate roosting birds and riverscapes, above a band of overlapping lotus petals, the flaring neck similarly painted. 45.5cm (17¾in) high (2).Sold for £9,360

A_pair_of_blue_and_white_baluster_vases_and_two_covers

A pair of blue and white baluster vases and two covers. Kangxi. Photo Bonhams

The bodies each boldly painted with upright slender panels of shrubs dividing smaller ones with archaistic vessels, the two covers variously painted, one with four panels, the other with two panels above a chevron band. 51.5cm (20½in) high (4).Sold for £7,800

Provenance: an English private collection

A_blue_and_white_ewer_and_cover

A blue and white ewer and cover. Kangxi. Photo Bonhams

Both sides of the slender baluster body painted with a panel of two ladies standing flanking a jardinière of flowers on a terrace. 18.5cm (7¼in) high. Sold for £7,200

A_blue_and_white_rouleau_vase

A blue and white rouleau vase. Kangxi. Photo Bonhams

Boldly painted around the exterior with Shoulao and four child attendants holding a yinyang panel standing greeting a boy holding a large peach accompanied by two dignitaries, the reserve with a long inscription. 47cm (18½in) high.. Sold for £6,000 

Provenance: an English private collection

A_blue_and_white_cylindrical_tripod_incense_burner1

A_blue_and_white_cylindrical_tripod_incense_burner2

A blue and white cylindrical tripod incense burner. Chenghua four-character mark, Kangxi. Photo Bonhams

Boldly painted all around the vertical exterior with a dense meander of leafy peony, standing on four short feet, the flat rim with v-pattern. 19.5cm (7¾in) diam. Estimate: £4,000 - 6,000, HKD 51,000 - 76,000, $ 6,500 - 9,800. Unsold.

A_large_blue_and_white__lotus__dish

A large blue and white 'lotus' dish. Kangxi. Photo Bonhams

Brightly and boldly painted in the interior with a large central lotus flower within five others on a continuous leafy meander. 39.5 (15¾in) diam. Estimate: £4,000 - 6,000, HKD 51,000 - 76,000, $ 6,500 - 9,800. Unsold.

 A_pair_of_blue_and_white_dishes

A pair of blue and white dishes. Kangxi. Photo Bonhams

Both painted with a long-tailed bird perched on rockwork beneath two large peony heads above a pond, the well with spiral panels of upright shrubs, the border with scrolling peony beneath the shaped rim. 37.5cm (14¾in) wide (2).  Estimate: £4,000 - 6,000, HKD 51,000 - 76,000, $ 6,500 - 9,800. Unsold.

A_blue_and_white_bowl

A_blue_and_white_bowl2

A blue and white bowl. Chenghua six-character mark, Kangxi. Photo Bonhams

Painted around the exterior in imitation of a Ming Dynasty Palace bowl with a continuous meander of mallow flowers in a four-headed wide band, the centre of the interior with a single flower. 11.5cm (4½in) diam. Estimate: £3,000 - 5,000, HKD 38,000 - 63,000, $ 4,900 - 8,200. Unsold

Provenance: Bluett, London (label)

Compare a related blue and white bowl, Kangxi, from the Qing Court Collection, similarly inspired by Chenghua period palace bowls; see The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Blue and White Porcelain with Underglaze Red (III), Hong Kong, 2000, pl.66.

A_blue_and_white_bowl3

A_blue_and_white_bowl4

A blue and white bowl. Kangxi six-character mark and of the period. Photo Bonhams

Delicately painted around the exterior with four cartouches, each with two pairs of figures in pavilion interiors, the interior with a circular medallion enclosing three boys at play. 20.4cm (8in) diam. Estimate: £3,000 - 5,000, HKD 38,000 - 63,000, $ 4,900 - 8,200. Unsold

A_blue_and_white_saucer_dish

A blue and white saucer dish. Early Kangxi. Photo Bonhams

Boldly painted across the whole of the interior with two long-tailed mythical phoenix perched on pierced rockwork beside flowering shrubs. 32cm (12¾in) diam. Estimate: £2,000 - 3,000, HKD 25,000 - 38,000, $ 3,300 - 4,900. Unsold

Provenance: Fiorentini Collection, AC24

A_blue_and_white__birds__bowl

A blue and white 'birds' bowl. Chenghua six-character mark, Kangxi. Photo Bonhams

Unusually painted around the entire exterior with a multitude of birds in flight and perched on leafy branches issuing from rockwork, a star constellation at the rim. 18.5cm (6½in) diam. Estimate: £1,500 - 2,000, HKD 19,000 - 25,000, $ 2,400 - 3,300. Unsold

Bonhams. Fine Chinese Art, 12 May 2011, New Bond Street www.bonhams.com