Lot 3125. A rare massive pale blue-glazed relief-decorated vase, 18th century; 27 ¾ in. (70.5 cm.) high. Estimate $500,000 – $700,000. Price realised $545,000 © Christie’s Image Ltd 2015
The vase is of modified meiping shape with a high-shouldered, tapering body well carved with a large scaly, five-clawed dragon pursuing a large flaming pearl amidst clouds on the upper body above a smaller dragon shown rising from the breaking waves that form a band above the unglazed base, all under a glaze of pale aqua-blue color.
Provenance: Yamanaka & Company, Inc., New York.
Christie's New York, 21 March 2000, lot 388.
Sotheby's Hong Kong, 10 April 2006, lot 1611.
Literature: Collection of Chinese and Other Far Eastern Art, Yamanaka & Company, Inc., 1943, no. 1245, where the vase was dated to the Kangxi period.
Note: Although the color of the glaze on this unusually large vase is reminiscent of a qingbai glaze, the decoration of dragons amidst clouds above waves and the manner in which it is carved in relief is representative of other large vessels of 18th century date, such as the large jar of Yongzheng date (46.5 cm. high) in the Qing Court collection, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum - 37 - Monochrome Porcelain, Hong Kong, 1999, no. 135, and the large bottle vase (58.9 cm. high) with globular body, and with Qianlong mark, also in the Qing Court collection, no. 137. The glaze on both of these large vessels is described as light greenish blue.
The design on this vase, of a larger dragon above a smaller dragon rising from the waves, may represent the passing of knowledge from father to son, or a wish for the transference of an official position from one generation to the next. This theme is most famously represented in a painting known as Spring's Peaceful Message by Giuseppe Castiglione (Lang Shining) in the Palace Museum Collection, Beijing, of the Yongzheng Emperor with Prince Hongli (the future Qianlong Emperor). The young Prince is shown smaller than the Emperor, bowing slightly, and looking respectfully up at his father as the two men exchange a spray of prunus.
Christie’s. FINE CHINESE CERAMICS AND WORKS OF ART, 15 - 16 March 2015, New York, Rockefeller Plaza