2

Lot 117. A rare blue and white hexagonal  'Hu' vase. Qianlong Seal Mark And Period  (1736-1795); 46cm., 18in. Estimate 150,000-200,000 GBP. Lot sold: 337,250 GBP. Photo: Sotheby's.

of archaistic fanghu form, the hexagonal body raised on a splayed foot with the flared neck flanked by a pair of tubular lug handles, well painted in rich tones of underglaze blue, the body and neck decorated with wide bands of stylised lotus meanders divided by a keyfret border and upright ruyi-heads, the rim painted with a flower scroll ruyi border below a band of crashing waves, repeated on the handles, the foot decorated with a flower scroll band between lappets and a scroll border

Note : The present impressive vase belongs to a well-known group of vessels of this hexagonal hu form, with the neck flanked by a pair of tubular handles and superbly painted in the Ming style with composite flower scrolls. However, the decoration on this piece differs in a number of ways from its relations, making it special with only one other similar example known, possibly it's pair, sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 3rd November 1996, lot 773. Wares of this large size required the highest level of technical skill available only at the Imperial kilns at Jingdezhen in Jiangxi province where Superintendent Tang Ying was in charge of overseeing production for the Qing court.

While the neck on this vase is painted with a band of lotus meander, the majority of comparable examples are decorated with a frieze of crested waves; for example see one in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, included in the Special Exhibition of K'ang-his, Yung-cheng and Ch'ien-lung Porcelain Ware of the Ch'ing Dynasty, Taipei, 1986, cat. no. 68; another in the Capital Museum, Beijing, included in Gems of the Official Kilns, Taipei, 1993, pl. 84; a third, from the Yokogawa collection, published in the Illustrated Catalogue of Tokyo National Palace Museum. Chinese Ceramics, vol. II, Tokyo, 190, cat. no. 565; and one in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Treasures in the Royalty. The Official Kiln Porcelain of the Chinese Qing Dynasty, Shanghai, 2003, pl. 238. A vase of this form, photographed in situ in the Shenyang Palace Museum, Liaoning province, is included in Imperial Life in the Qing Dynasty. Treasures from the Shenyang Palace Museum, China, Singapore, 1989, p. 38. Compare also a vase sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 8th October 2008, lot 2567; and another sold in these rooms, 9th June 1992, lot 281. The keyfret band dividing the neck and body on this vase is also unusual, although a slightly smaller vase sold at Christie's London, 11th May 2010, lot 214, is painted with a wave-band separating the neck and body, with the neck and the handles decorated with a continuous lotus scroll motif

Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art. London, 16 may 2012.