A pair of rare Chinese 'PRONK ' square tapering vases, Yongzheng-Early Qianlong period, circa 1734-1740

A pair of rare Chinese 'Pronk' square tapering vases, Yongzheng-Early Qianlong period, circa 1734-1740Estimate £8,000 - £12,000 ($12,256 - $18,384)Price Realized £26,250 ($40,215). Photo Christie's Image Ltd 2015.

Finely enamelled on each side with redcurrants on a branch with foliage, reserved on a black ground - 12 ¼ in. (31 cm.) high



LiteratureInternational Exhibition of Chinese Art, The Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1935, catalogue no. 2260, and illustrated on p. 208.

Exhibited: The Royal Academy of Arts, London, International Exhibition of Chinese Art, 1935-1936, no. 2260.

NotesHaving been inspired in form by archaic Chinese bronzes, this pair of vases would have originally formed part of a five-piece garniture, and were designed by the Dutch draftsman, Cornelis Pronk (1691-1759) who was employed by the Dutch East India Company to produce porcelain designs from 1734 until about 1740. Pronk incorporated in many of his designs some details taken from prints by the Dutch-Swiss botanist, Marie Sybille Merian (1646-1717) , but the decoration on these garnitures closely copy Merian's botanical studies (see William Motley, Think Pink, Cohen & Cohen, Reigate, 2013, p.60 for a discussion on these designs). The garnitures were made in two styles: tall and slim (as in the present lot), or shorter and broader. Motley states that there are three known designs, which he calls 'dewbury, 'fritillary’ and 'redcurrant’ after the botanical specimens they represent. The present pair of vases may possibly be a slightly simplified version of 'redcurrant’ or may be taken from a different Merian study of the fruit. 

Very few complete garnitures appear to have survived, although pairs and single vases are known, but due to the very small output of porcelain designed by Pronk, these highly prized, and meticulously-decorated examples are extremely rare. A three-piece garniture, of the shorter variety, and with the 'redcurrant’ design, is in the Östiatiska Museet, Stockholm, illustrated by Jan Wirgin, Från Kina till Europa, Stockholm, 1998, p. 175, no. 189. A single vase of the taller and slimmer type but of inverted shape, which has the same design as on the present vases, was sold Christie’s London, 22 June 1981, lot 145, and published by Anthony du Boulay, Christie’s Pictorial History of Chinese Ceramics, Oxford, 1984, p. 269. This would perhaps suggest that the three designs varied slightly according to whether they were placed on the taller or shorter versions. 

CHRISTIE'S. NOBLE & PRIVATE COLLECTIONS, 27 October 2015, London, King Street