Lot 24. A rare archaistic yellow jade vase and cover, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1795):. Estimate 1,000,000 — 1,500,000 HKD. Photo: Sotheby's.

 of oval section, finely worked with an ovoid central section rising from a splayed foot to a flaring neck and rim, flanked along the sides by a pair of long openwork handles in the form of a stylised kui dragon with a sinuous body detailed with ruyi motifs, the vessel's body worked in low relief with pendent and upright trefoil motifs, all below an incised freize of upright plantain blades enclosing leiwen motifs collaring the neck, the cover with tapering sides flanked by openwork scroll flanges and surmounted by an oval finial resting atop a short constricted post, the stone of an attractive warm yellow colour with faint russet and white inclusions; 14.7 cm, 5 3/4  in.

NotesThis outstanding vase masterfully captures the craftsman’s skill in his ability to create a subtle low-relief carving on the body as well as lavish scrolling handles modelled in openwork. The ornamental body contrasts with the plain cover which has been left plain to accentuate the luminosity and clarity of the stone.

Yellow jade vases were made in a variety of forms, often inspired by forms and designs from archaic bronzes, for example see a slightly larger vase with angled shoulders, carved in low relief with a taotie band between plantain blades and flanked by scrolling handles, from the Qing Court collection and now in Beijing, published in The Complete Collection of Treasures in the Palace Museum. Jadeware (III), Hong Kong, 1995, pl. 148; and a hexagonal gu vase, the midsection with archaistic scrolls and the neck and foot with cicada blades, sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 27th October 2003, lot 826, and again in these rooms, 8th October 2014, lot 3670. See also a plain yellow jade vase, the flaring neck flanked by two openwork archaistic phoenix handles, sold twice at Christie’s Hong Kong, 17th May 1988, lot 555, again, 29th April 1996, lot 693, and a third time at Christie’s London, 15th May 2007, lot 374.

Since the Ming dynasty yellow jade was recognised by scholars and connoisseurs as one of the most valued variations of nephrite. In his miscellany Yanxian Qingshang [Refined Enjoyment of Elegant Leisure], the dramatist Gao Lian (fl. 1573-81) noted, "Of all jade materials, yellow stones with a mellow tone are the best and mutton-white ones come second". Because of its rarity, the brownish skin was often worked into the piece, as seen on the cover and outermost edges of the foot and handles, to increase its overall size and show the carver’s respect for the rare and valuable material.

Sotheby's. Roger Keverne - 50 Years in the Trade, Hong Kong, 05 Oct 2016, 10:00 AM