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A fine and rare ru-type garlic-mouth vase, seal mark and period of Qianlong. Photo: Sotheby's.

the pear-shaped body rising from a slightly tapered foot to a garlic-head mouth, the waisted neck encircled by two gently raised ribs, covered overall in a thick bluish-grey glaze finely suffused with widely dispersed crackles, save for the raised mouth lip and foot dressed in a brown wash, the recessed base inscribed in underglaze blue with a six-character seal mark; 17.8 cm., 7 in. Estiate 1,200,000 — 1,800,000 HKD - Unsold

Provenance: Sotheby's Hong Kong, 10th April 2006, lot 1610 

Elegantly formed with gentle curves that swell to the body and mouth, this vase has been inspired by celebrated Song vessels that were the object of Qianlong’s admiration and study. Even the foot has been left unglazed and stained in a dark brown colour to emulate that of its prototype. The beauty of the form is accentuated by the luminous glaze which also exudes a sense of refinement. A closely related example from the Qing Court collection and still in Beijing is illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Monochrome Porcelain, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 215; a larger example is published in Sekai tōji zenshū/ Collection of World Ceramics, vol. 12, Tokyo, 1956, pl. 93, together with one covered in a teadust glaze, p. 183, fig. 52; and a third was sold in these rooms, 8th October 2008, lot 2512. Compare also a Ge-type glazed vase with a Yongzheng seal mark and of the period, included in the International Exhibition of Chinese Art, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1935, cat. no. 2589. 

For the Song prototype compare a Longquan celadon vase in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, illustrated in Lung Ch’uan Ware of the Sung Dynasty, Taipei, 1962, pl. 10; and examples recovered from a sunken ship off the coast of Korea in the first half of the 14th century, included in the Special Exhibition of Cultural Relics Found Off Sinan Coast, National Museum of Korea, Seoul, 1977, cat. nos. 53 and 54.

Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art. Hong Kong | 08 Oct 2013 -www.sothebys.com