Lot 30. A Fine Ming-Style Blue and White Facetted Vase, Mark and Period of Yongzheng 1723-1735); 17.3 cm, 6 1/2 in. Estimate 6,000,000-8,000,000 HKD. Lot Sold 12,420,000 HKD (1,595,722 USD). Photo Sotheby's
the square body with chamfered corners well-painted with a continuous leafy scroll of morning glory with one bloom on each side, the splayed foot encircled by a band of lappets enclosing formal floral motifs, all beneath a wide cylindrical neck decorated with a band of similar upright lappets with key-fret and pendant trefoil borders below the thick-lipped rim, the neck further flanked by a pair of curved handles issuing from the mouths of moulded dragon heads with short horns, bulging eyes and prominent fangs, the base inscribed with a six-character reign mark within a double ring.
Provenance: Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 27th April 1993, lot 145.
Christie’s Hong Kong, 3Oth April 2000, lot 590.
Literature: Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, London, 1994-2010, vol. 4, no. 1713.
Note: This early Ming shape appears to have been a particular favourite of the Yongzheng Emperor, although the Ming prototypes mostly differ in design, with morning glories covering the whoie vessel. Two extant handscrolls of the Yongzheng period, dated in accordancewith 1728 and 1729, respectively, depicting works of art from the imperial collection include two such vases each, ail four shown on different wooden stands; see Regina Krahl, ‘Art in the Yongzheng Period: Legacy of an Eccentric Art Lover’, Orientations, November/Decernber 2005, pp 65 and 66. A veritable ‘portrait’ of yet another such vase holding an auspicious branch of peony with twin blooms was executed by the court painter Giuseppe Castiglione; see Wang Yaoting, Xin guan fie. Lang Shining yu Qing gong xiyang feng/New Visions atthe Ch’ing Court. Giuseppe Castiglione and Western-Style Trends, Taipei, 2007, pI. 16 (fig. O). Although the painting s flot dated, its subject matter and message are very close to another Castiglione painting of a vase with auspiclous plants, which the artist presented to the Yongzheng Emperor upon his accession to the throne in 1723. The complex geometric shape, which does flot corne naturally to a potter, was clearly influenced by metal prototypes, probably of Middle Eastern origin, where facetted shapes are flot uncommon. Basil Gray, ‘The Influence of Near Eastern Metalwork on Chinese Ceramics’, Transactions ofthe Oriental Ceramic Society, vol. 18, 1940-4 1, pI. 6c and d, compares a porcelain vase of this form to an earlier Persian bronze rose-water sprinkler in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, which is illustrated and discussed also in Assaduliah Souren Melikian-Chirvani, Islamic Metaiwork from the Iranian World. 8th — l8th Centuries, London, 1982, pI. 5.
A very similar vase of Yongzheng mark and period from the Qing court collection in the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated in Geng Baochang, ed., Gugong Bowuyuan cang Ming chu qinghua ci [Early Ming biue-and-white porcelain in the Palace Museum], Beijing, 2002, vol. 2, pI. 186, together with a prototype of Xuande mark and period, vol. 1, pI. 83; another one in Geng Baochang, ed., Gugong Bowuyuan cang Qingdaiyuyao ciqi [Porcelains from the Qing dynasty imperial kilns in the Palace Museum collection], Beijing, 2005, vol. 1, part 2, pI. 25. A similar vase was also sold inthese rooms, 3lst October 2004, lot 181; and a Yongzheng vase of this pattern over-decorated in yellow and green enamel is in the Baur Collection, Geneva, illustrated in John Ayers, Chinese Ceramics in the 8aur Collection, Geneva, 1999, vol. 2, p1. 212.
This design was in the Yongzheng period more common in a siightly different version, with scroils of morning glory also covering the blank areas of the neck; compare examples of this design in the Nanjing Museurn, published in Xu Huping, ed., Zhongguo Qingdai guanyao ciqii/The Officiai Kiin Porcelain oft he Chinese Qirig Dynasty, Shanghai, 2003, p. 135; in the National Palace Museum, Taiwan, included in the exhibition MingXuande ciqitezhan mulu/Catalogue of a Speciai Exhibition of Hsuan-te Period Porcelain, Taipei, 1980, cat. no. 5, together with a Xuande example and a later copy decorated with morning glory scroils only, cat. nos. 6 and 7.
The Shanghai Museum also owns a Qianlong version of this form, with scrolls of morning glory fully covering the vessel, illustrated in Lu Minghua, Shanghai Bowuguan zangpin yanjiu daxi/Studies o fthe Shanghai Museum Collections : A Series of Monographs. Mingdai guanyao ciqi [Ming imperial porcelain], Shanghai, 2007, pI. 5-20. Four vases of this form, from the Sir Percival David Collection are in the British Museum: for one of Xuande mark and period see the lllustrated Catalogue of Undergiaze Blue and Copper Red Decorated Porcelains in the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, rev. ed. London, 2004, no. A 633; fora very similar Qing copy with a spurious Xuande mark, ibid., no. 609; fora similar unmarked vase with yellow enamel, see lllustrated Catalogue of Ming and Ming Style Polychrome Wares in the Percival David Foundation cf Chinese Art, rev. ed., London, 2006, no. 781; and a later monochrome greenish-glazed piece bears inventory no. A 415.
Fig. 1. Giuseppe Castiglione, Vase with Flowers. Yongzheng period. National Palace Museum, Taipei
Sotheby's. The Meiyintang Collection, Part II - An Important Selection of Chinese Porcelains. Hong Kong 5 october 2011