Lot 3156. An underglaze-blue and copper-red-decorated ‘Dragon’ moonflask, Qianlong six-character seal mark in underglaze blue and of the period (1736-1795); 12 ¼ in. (31.1 cm.) highEstimate $300,000 – $500,000Price realised USD 317,000. © Christie’s Image Ltd 2015

Each side of the vase is decorated in copper red of soft, shaded tones with a dragon leaping in pursuit of a copper-red flaming pearl amidst blue clouds and above a band of wind-tossed waves, and a pair of arched handles painted with classic scroll flanks the cylindrical neck. 

ProvenanceAcquired in New Haven, Connecticut, before 1990, and thence by descent within the family.

Note: This type of flask is also known as a 'pilgrim's flask' or as a magua ping (flask to be tied to a horse). It is recorded in the Yangxindian Zaobanchu gezuo huoji Qing dang (Qing dynasty archives relating to the crafts produced by the various Imperial Household Workshops of the Yangxindian), no. 3396, that in 1742, the court official Hai Wang received an order to "make a few drawings of this magua ping with underglaze-red dragons and underglaze-blue clouds over a white ground, to be passed on to Tang Ying in Jiangxi for several pieces to be fired according to them." The present vessel may well have been among those recorded flasks. 

Compare the present flask with others with similar decoration and of approximately the same size: one from the Qing Court Collection is illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum - 36 - Blue and White Porcelain with Underglazed Red (III), Hong Kong, 2000, no. 213; and a similar example with a Qianlong mark from the Reitlinger Collection is illustrated by S. Jenyns, Later Chinese Porcelain, London, 1951, pl. XCIV, fig. 1. Another was included in the exhibition, The Wonders of the Potter's Palette, Hong Kong Museum of Art, 1994, no. 66; and an example from the collection of Monsieur le Marquis du Bourg de Bogas was sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 29 May 2007, lot 1373. Compare, also, the similar example sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 15 June 1999, lot 72, and another from the Norton Collection, sold at Christie's London, 5 November 1960, lot 200, and now in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, which was included in their exhibition of Chinese Ceramics, 1965, no. 116.  

Christie’s. FINE CHINESE CERAMICS AND WORKS OF ART, 15 - 16 March 2015, New York, Rockefeller Plaza