A very fine and rare clair-de-lune brushwasher, tangle xi, Kangxi six-character mark in underglaze blue and of the period (1662-1722). Photo Christie's Image 2003
Of finely potted compressed globular form, covered both inside and out with a pale lavender-blue glaze pooling around the incurved rim to form an attractive blue halo, standing on a low foot - 4 7/8in. (12.2cm.) diam. Lot 349. Estimate $80,000 - $100,000. Price Realized $197,900
Provenance: Bluett & Sons, London.
Notes: The soft, gentle hue of claire-de-lune is one of the most treasured of Qing glazes, and was reserved exclusively for Imperial porcelains. Clair-de-lune-glazed wares were made in the same eight classic shapes for the writing table, ba da ma, or 'Eight Great Numbers', as peachbloom-glazed wares, but were considerably more rare. For a discussion of these wares see J. Ayers, 'The 'Peachbloom' Wares of the Kangxi period (1662-1722)', T.O.C.S., 1999-2000, vol. 64, pp. 31-50, where a clair-de-lune brushwasher in the Collections Baur, is illustrated p. 48, fig. 36(L). On p. 50, he proposes that rather than having been made for use, the peachbloom-glazed ba da ma, as well as the clair-de-lune examples, were more likely made to be given as presents to members of the court. There are three clair-de-lune brushwashers illustrated in The Baur Collection, Geneva, 1972, vol. 3, nos. A318, A320, and A321, where Ayers mentions another three in the Widener Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. Other examples are illustrated in
Oriental Ceramics, The World's Great Collections, vol. 12, Tokyo, 1982, no. 136, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art; inSekai toji zenshu, vol. 15, Tokyo, 1983, p. 36, pls. 28 and 29, in the National Palace Museum, Taiwan; and by Lee,Selected Far Eastern Art in the Yale University Art Gallery, no. 44. One in the Percival David Foundation was included in the O.C.S. exhibition, Arts of the Ch'ing Dynasty, London, 1964, no. 268 and another in the O.C.S. exhibition, The Chinese Scholar's Desk, Oxford, 1979, no. 26. It is illustrated again by R. Scott, For the Imperial Court: Qing Porcelains from the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, New York, 1997, p. 67, no. 13. A further example is illustrated in Chinese Porcelain, The S.C. Ko Tianminlou Collection, Hong Kong, 1987, Part II, pl. 150, in which Tam notes, p. 192, that this is one of the imperial wares on which the Kangxi reign mark is arranged in three columns of two characters each, without encircling lines.
See, also, the two similar Kangxi-marked clair-de-lune brushwashers sold in these rooms, 20 March 2002, lots 234 and 235.
Christie's. FINE CHINESE CERAMICS AND WORKS OF ART, 18 September 2003, New York, Rockefeller Plaza