A large blue and white double gourd vase, Jiajing mark and period (1522-1566)

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Lot 56. A large blue and white double gourd vase, Jiajing mark and period (1522-1566); 44.5 cm, 17 1/2  in. Estimate 30,000 — 50,000 GBP. Lot sold 43,750 GBP. Photo Sotheby's

the globular lower body rising from a short spreading foot to a smaller upper globular section with short narrow neck, brightly painted around the exterior in rich cobalt-blue tones with deer and crane in a landscape, the upper section with birds amidst shou character and prunus trees, all divided by classic scroll, lotus lappet and peach bands at the base, central section and neck, the base inscribed in underglaze-blue with the six-character mark

ProvenanceChristie’s London, 6th August 1992, lot 294

NoteThe Jiajing emperor’s fascination towards Daoism and its magical practices is apparent on this vase, which brims with Daoist imagery: depictions of cranes and deer, both symbolic of immortality, create the auspicious pun liuhe, which refers to the six points of the universe including the four directions, zenith and nadir; the shou (longevity) character emerging from rocks represents the vaporous emanations of qi, the cosmic energy that derives from the Dao; and the pine, flowering prunus and bamboo, known as the Three Friends of Winter, are symbols of longevity, perseverance and integrity. Vases of this type appear to have gained popularity during the Jiajing reign as, according to Palace records, the court commissioned the making of ten thousand blue and white double-gourd vases in 1547 (see the catalogue to the exhibition Enlightening Elegance, Art Museum, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2012, p. 247).

A closely related vase in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, is illustrated in Blue-and-White Ware of the Ming, vol. 5, Taipei, 1963, pl. 4; one from the Harry Oppenheim collection and now in the British Museum, London, is illustrated in Jessica Harrison-Hall, Chinese Ceramics, London, 2001, pl. 9:35; another in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, is published in Suzanne G. Valenstein, A Handbook of Chinese Ceramics, New York, 1975, pl. 166; and a fourth vase, from the Huaihaitang collection, was included in the exhibition Enlightening Eleganceop. cit., cat. no. 64. 

Sotheby'sImportant Chinese Art, Londres, 11 mai 2016, 10:00 AM