A blue and white sleeve vase, rolwagen, Shunzhi period. Estimate £15,000 - 20,000 (€21,000 - 28,000). Photo Bonhams.
The cylindrical body boldly painted around the exterior in wet and dense washes of cobalt blue with a continuous scene of two gentlemen parting at a shore, one accompanied by his attendants, the everted neck with a typical foliage border above two incised double lines at the shoulder. 46cm (18 1/8in) high
Notes: The vase depicts a story set in the twelfth or eleventh century BC, in which King Wen of Zhou sought the advice of the hermit scholar Jiang Ziya, later known as Taigongwang.
According to traditional Chinese historiography, the last king of the Shang dynasty was corrupt and cruel. Jiang Ziya had once served him, but was disillusioned and retired to spend the rest of his days fishing, waiting to serve a new and moral king. It is said that he used no hook at all, believing that the fish would come to him on their own, echoing King Wen.
King Wen of Zhou wished to overthrow the Shang, and so sought talented scholars knowledgeable in the arts of war and administration. When King Wen met Jiang Ziya, he discovered that this white haired fisherman was actually an astute political thinker and military strategist. He thus appointed Jiang Ziya to be his prime minister and gave him the title of 'Taigongwang' (Hope of the Duke of Zhou). With Jiang Taigong's help, the Shang was overthrown and the Zhou dynasty was firmly established.
Such legends from history, of scholars waiting to serve new more morally upright regimes, would have resonated with some scholars justifying the transitional period between the fall of the Ming and the establishment of the Qing, when the current lot was manufactured.
A rolwagen vase with a very similar scene is in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, inv.no. AK-NM-6669.
Bonhams. FINE CHINESE ART, 14 May 2015 10:00 BST -LONDON, NEW BOND STREET