A Very Rare Pair Of clair-De-Lune glazed Bottle Vases. Yongzheng Six-Character Marks Within Double-Circles And Of The Period (1723-1735). Photo Christie's Image Ltd 2012

Each vase is well potted with a compressed spherical body surmounted by slender tapering neck under a dish-shaped mouth. The body has a raised horizontal bow string below a carved line on the shoulder. It is covered with a pale sky-blue glaze stopping neatly below the rim and around the foot rim. The mark is inscribed in underglaze-blue to the base. 12 1/4 in. (31 cm.) high (2). Estimate HK$2,500,000 - HK$4,000,000 ($324,172 - $518,674)

Provenance: George A. Hearn (1835-1913) Collection, no. 10
J. Insley Blair (1870-1939) and thence by descent to the present owners

Literature: The J. Insley Blair Collection of Chinese Porcelain, Tuxedo Park, New York, 1925, pl. II, nos. 9 and 10

Notes: George A. Hearn was one of the foremost American Art Collectors of his day and was a trustee and very significant donor of paintings to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The shape and decoration of the present pair appears to be unique among fine Yongzheng monochrome porcelains. They are probably a variation of the more common Yongzheng vases of a slightly compressed body with bow string designs, fashioned after the Song prototype found in Longquan and Guan wares. One example is glazed in pale blue with a central bow string on the body similar to the present lot and six further bow strings, illustrated in Qingdai Ciqi Shang Jian, Hong Kong, 1994, p. 78, no. 85. Another Robin's Egg-glazed example incised with a four-character mark is illustrated in Porcelains: Ming Dynasty, Studies of the Collections of the National Museum of China, Shanghai, 2007, pl. 66.

The soft, gentle hue of clair-de-lune is one of the most treasured Qing glazes, and was reserved exclusively for Imperial porcelains. The colour appears first in Kangxi porcelains; clair-de-lune wares were made in the same eight classic shapes for the writing table, as peachbloom-glazed wares, but are considerably rarer.

Christie's. Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art. 28 November 2012. Hong Kong