Lot 105. An outstanding peachbloom washer, Mark and period of Kangxi (1662-1722); 8.2 cm., 3 1/4 in. Estimate: 2,000,000 - 3,000,000 HKD. Lot sold 3,380,000 HKD. Photo Sotheby's
delicately potted with low rounded sides incurved at the mouth and supported on a low straight foot, the exterior covered with the quintessential 'peachbloom' colour of brilliant crimson tone with an attractive mottling of lighter pink shades around the foot, the sides speckled with tiny dots of emerald green, the interior and recessed base left white, the base inscribed with a six-character reign mark in underglaze blue.
Provenance: Acquired in Shanghai in the 1930s and 1940s.
Exhibited: Zandelou Qingdai guanyao danseyou ciqi/Qing Imperial Monochromes. The Zandelou Collection, Shanghai Museum, Beijing Museum and Art Museum, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2005, cat. no. 3.
Literature: Helen D. Ling and E.T. Chow, Collection of Chinese Ceramics from the Pavilion of Ephemeral Attainment, vol. II, Hong Kong, 1950, pl. 82.
Note: Peachbloom-glazed brushwashers of this form were produced in great number at the imperial kilns, but the notoriously difficult copper-red glaze hardly ever turned out as brilliantly as in the present case. With its clear, strong red colour and subtle mottling this piece must have ranked among the most successful specimens. To manage the fugitive copper pigment, for peachbloom glazes the copper solution is believed to have been sprayed onto a layer of transparent glaze and then fixed with another layer, so as to be sandwiched between two layers of clear glaze. The technique marks one of the great ceramic innovations of the Kangxi period, but probably due to this demanding process it remained in use for only a short time and was never revived again at a later stage.
A washer with a comparable intense red glaze in the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Monochrome Porcelain, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 19; another bright red washer of this form, but with fine, pale mottling is in the Shanghai Museum, published in Kangxi Porcelain Wares from the Shanghai Museum Collection, Hong Kong, 1998, pl. 208.
Sotheby's. Qing Imperial Monochromes from the J.M. Hu Collection. Hong Kong | 09 Oct 2012