A very rare Ge-type bronze-form vase, hu, Yongzheng seal mark in underglaze blue and of the period (1723-1735) 

Lot 1120. A very rare Ge-type bronze-form vase, hu, Yongzheng seal mark in underglaze blue and of the period (1723-1735), 12¾ in. (32.4 cm.) high. Estimate USD 400,000 - USD 600,000Price realised USD 2,042,500 © Christie's Images Ltd 2011 

Of pear shape, molded with two double bow-string bands below a pair of lug handles that flank the neck, with a very slight raised edge on the lower body above the spreading foot which is encircled at the top by a single bow-string band, covered overall with a pale, very slightly greenish-grey glaze suffused with an irregular pattern of dark grey ('iron wire') crackle, the unglazed bottom of the foot covered with a brown dressing

Provenance: Cunliffe Collection, no. PC 20.
Sotheby's, New York, 4 December 1985, lot 256..  

NoteBoth the shape and the glaze of this rare vase are based on Song dynasty wares, which were greatly admired by the emperors of the high Qing. During the Yongzheng reign much research and development was undertaken in order to reproduce the glazes of these wares on porcelains made at the imperial kilns at Jingdezhen. 

The pear shape, lug handles and bow-string bands decorating the neck and body appear to have been inspired by Longquan, as well as Ge and Guan ware prototypes. The circular hu shape of the present vase is more similar to that of Longquan celadon examples, such as the vase in the Qing Court collection, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum - 33 - Porcelain of the Song Dynasty (II), Hong Kong, 1996, p. 114, no. 102, which is of comparable size (31.5 cm.). Another Longquan celadon vase of this type is illustrated by Liu Liang-yu, A Survey of Chinese Ceramics - 2 - Sung Wares, Taipei, 1991, p. 193. The shape of the present vase is, however, more robust and rounded than the Song Longuan vases.

The grey glaze suffused with dark grey crackle was inspired by the glaze found on Ge wares of Southern Song and Yuan date. The hu-form vases on which Ge and Guan glazes were found were of oval, rectangular, or faceted shape. Two small (13.4 and 14.8 cm. high) vases described as Ge ware, of oval hu shape, with lug handles joined by two bow-string bands, are also illustrated by Liu Liang-yu, op.cit.A Survey of Chinese Ceramics - 5 - Sung Ceramics, pp. 200-1. See, also, a larger Guan ware vase (10 in.) of this type in the collection of Mrs. Alfred Clark, included in the Oriental Ceramic Society exhibition, Ju and Kuan Ware, London, 12 - 13 December 1952, no. 34. A larger Ge ware vase (24.1 cm.) of faceted octagonal hu form, also with lug handles joined by bow-string bands, is illustrated op. cit.The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum - 33 - Porcelain of the Song Dynasty (II), p. 45, no. 39, and a Guan ware vase (23 cm. high), of oval section, is illustrated pp. 6-7, no. 3. 

The combination of shape and glaze of the present vase is extremely unusual, and a most successful Qing interpretation of the antique.  

Christie's. Magnificent Qing Monochrome Porcelains and Earlier Works of Art from the Gordon Collection, 24 March 2011, New York