A magnificent Moonflask, with the seal mark of Qianlong and of the period. Photo Stockholm Auktionsverk
of compressed globular form, finely painted in rich cobalt-blue tones imitating 15th century style with the Eight BuddhistTreasures (bajixiang) within stylized lotus petals. The sides, the cylindrical neck and spreading foot decorated with lingzhi scrolls, underglaze blue seal mark and of the the period (1736-1795), height c. 49.5 cm, width c. 38 cm, depth c. 22 cm. Estimate: SEK 10 000 000-12 000 000 (€ 1 213 000-12 000 000)
PROVENANCE: In the collections of the present owners ancestors, at least before the First World War. Property of a Northern European aristocratic family
Note: The Qianlong Emperor was a great connoisseur and avid collector of art and antiques. He was highly fascinated by his predecessors and the objects surrounding them. Archaism had been appreciated for a long period but during the Qianlong regime the interest flourished. The inspiration from the supportive and engaged Emperor combined with the technical skill and the outstanding artistry of the craftsmen at the imperial kilns resulted in exquisite and impressive porcelain pieces.
Stockholms Auktionsverk has the great pleasure to introduce this magnificent and superb moonflask, with the seal mark of Qianlong and of the period (1736-1795). The characteristics typical of the finest porcelain items executed for the Qianlong Emperor. The shape of the moonflask has clear links with the past. During the Han and Tang dynasties similar objects where made of leather, bronze and ceramic materials, which were used to contain wine. The elephant-head handles are also inspired by archaic decoration from the Bronze Age.
The 'moon' form had a renaissance during the beginning of the Ming Dynasty, with influences from Syria, Iran and Egypt, where we find similar forms in perfume sprinklers of glass.
In the 18th century, the moonflask was re-established as an imperial favourite. Craftsmen tried to surpass each other by increasing the size of the flask despite the difficulty of firing such a piece successfully. There would have have been many kiln failures in order to produce the current large and perfect moonflask.
It's easy to picture the proud artist that executed this masterpiece. The moonflask has everything the Emperor wished for: an exceptional size (49.5 cm), a fascinating archaic form, a rich cobalt blue colour, a bright white porcelain and a refined decoration with symbolic value.
The shape of the moonflask is elegant and well balanced. The decoration is accurate and of high quality. The message is distinct with the Eight Buddhist Treasures, for example: the fishes representing conjugal happiness and freedom, the endless knot stands for eternal life and the lotus flower representing purity and enlightenment. These symbols are even today vivid in China. This moonflask is not only a precious object it is also a carrier of an important message.
LITERATURE: Compare with:
Christie's catalogue, 'Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Part II', 15-16 September 2011, New York, lot 1547
Christie's catalogue, 'For Imperial Appreciation: Fine Chinese Ceramics from the Greenwald Collection', 1 December 2010, Hong Kong, lot 2826
Porcelain in the National Palace Museum, 'Blue and White Ware of the Ch'ing Dynasty', vol. 2, Hong Kong, 1968, pl. 15
M. Beurdeley and G. Raindre, 'Qing Porcelain', Fribourg, 1987, pl. 154
He Li, 'Chinese Ceramics. A New Standard Guide', London, 1996, pl. 599
'Sekai Toji Zenshu', vol. 15, Tokyo, 1983, no. 151
This season's Fine Art & Antiques Auction at Stockholm Auktionsverk contains several interesting and beautiful Oriental objects. Highlights include a magnificent Moonflask, with the seal mark of Qianlong and of the period. It's the property of a Northern European aristocratic family and has been in the collections of the present owners ancestors, at least before the First World War.
Stockholms Auktionsverk also has the great pleasure to offer 'Important Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy from Swedish Collections' which for the first time are available on the art market. Many of the paintings are purchased directly from the artists by professor Lars Berglund, an internationally well-known expert on 20th century Chinese paintings.
Viewing 23 November-2 December - Auction 4-6 December
(Oriental Ceramics and Works of Art 6 December starts at 10 am. Important Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy from Swedish Collections starts at 4 pm)
Nybrogatan 32, Stockholm, Sweden http://auktionsverket.com