A Pair of Large Blue and White Vases and Covers. Qing Dynasty, Kangxi Period - Photo Sotheby's

each ovoid body surmounted by a waisted neck, painted with four panels enclosing ladies amongst pavilions in a garden landscape, divided by foliate scrolls, all between demi florets, chevron and lappet bands, the domed cover painted with precious objects and surmounted by a knop. Quantité: 4 - 79.7cm., 31 3/8 in. Estimation:  50,000 - 70,000 GBP

PROVENANCE: Sotheby's London, 21st March 2007, lot 37

NOTE DE CATALOGUE: Magnificent vases of this type, also known as ‘soldier’ vases, painted with complex figural scenes required technical virtuosity, not only in their potting but also in their firing. Their shape was particularly in tune with late 17th century Baroque taste, with blue-and-white vessels especially popular in Europe. Such was their admiration and approval by the Western royal courts and aristocracy that, according to legend, the term ‘soldier’ vase was coined as a result of Augustus the Strong (King of Poland r. 1697-1733) trading 600 of his soldiers for 150 Chinese vases of this type.

For comparable examples see a pair painted with Chinese court scenes in panels, in The Royal Collection, Windsor Castle, inventory number 35270 1-2, where the suggestion is raised that the vessels may have arrived with the Hanoverian Dynasty under George I; and another pair, painted with figures in landscape, sold in these rooms, 10th December 1968, lot 148.

See also a magnificent matched pair of blue and white ‘soldier’ vases and covers, from Dunecht House, Aberdeenshire in Scotland, sold in these rooms 9th November 2011, lot 174; and a similar pair to the Dunecht vases, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, illustrated in Oriental Ceramics. The World’s Great Collections, vol. 11, Tokyo, 1982, pl. 114, both pairs decorated with stylised floral scroll and dragon design bands. A blue-and-white garniture of seven pieces, formerly in the collection of Augustus the Strong and now in the Staatliche Kuntsammlungen, Dresden, is shown in situ in Ulrich Pietsch, China, Japan. Meissen. The Dresden Porcelain Collection, Dresden, 2006, p. 6; and a five piece set painted with Chinese landscape scenes, is published in Eva Strober, La Maladie de Porcelain. East Asian Porcelain from the Collection of Augustus the Strong, Leipzig, 2001, cat. no. 16.

Sotheby's. Treasures of the Qing Court, A Personal Perspective. London | 07 nov. 2012, www.sothebys.com