A fine emerald-green jadeite archaistic vessel and cover, fangding, late Qing dynasty

Lot 4275. A fine emerald-green jadeite archaistic vessel and cover, fangding, late Qing dynasty, 7 1/4 in. (18.5 cm.) overall high. Estimate HKD 3,000,000 - HKD 4,000,000Price realised HKD 16,900,000 © Christie's Images Ltd 2012

The rectangular vessel raised on four tall angular scroll feet issuing from taotie masks, each side carved in shallow relief with taotiemotifts, the shorter sides of the rim with openwork handles enclosingruyi motifts and the body with lion-mask and loose-ring handles. The cover is decorated with shallow-relief archaistic scroll and surmounted by an openwork Buddhist lion and cub finial. The translucent stone is of an icy sea-green tone suffused with numerous bright green veins. 


ProvenanceThe Ernest and Helen Dane Collection, Brookline, Massachusetts, acquired in the early 20th century

NoteThis magnificent vessel belongs to an exclusive group of jadeite censers that are carved from exceptionally high quality and valuable material. The present censer compares very closely to a jadeite censer from the Baron Fujita Collection sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 2 May 2000, lot 797. While there are slight variations in the decorative bands and the absence of ring handles on the Fujita censer, the form and choice of material are very close. For other example of this archaic form using exceptional jadeite material of translucent apple-green tone from the Jingguantang Collection, sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 3 November 1996, lot 602.

Compare also related jadeite examples modelled in a compressed globular form and supported on tripod feet. For example the tripod censer and cover from the Jingguantang Collection, lot 601; two others of equally superb quality from American museum collections, the first from the T. B. Walker Foundation, sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 17 November 1988, lot 299, and the second from the Cleveland Museum of Art Collection, sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 30 October 1991, lot 381; and another example, sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 31 May 2010, lot 2089.


A magnificent emerald-green jadeite tripod censer and cover, late Qing dynasty, 8 7/8 (22.2 cm.) across handles. From the Cleveland Museum of Art Collection, sold for HKD 34,260,000 at Christie's Hong Kong, 31 May 2010, lot 2089. © Christie's Images Ltd 2010. 

Jadeite was known during the Ming Dynasty but was not generally accepted as material for carvings until the latter part of the Qianlong reign in the late 18th century. A generic jade material from Burma, jadeite was distinct from nephrite in appearance and texture, with a brilliant spectrum of colours, and as such, jadeite was of historical importance largely for the development of jade as jewellery in China. During the later 19th century, the glass-like translucency of the rarest emerald-green coloured jadeite came to be prized by the ladies of the Qing court, led by the formidable Empress Dowager Cixi herself. From then on, gem-quality jadeite became synonymous with status and sophistication.

Christie'sImportant Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, 30 May 2012, Hong Kong, HKCEC Grand Hall