A fine Ru-type hexagonal vase, hu, seal mark and period of Qianlong (1736-1795)



Lot 3638. A fine Ru-type hexagonal vase, hu, seal mark and period of Qianlong (1736-1795),  46 cm, 18 1/8  in. Estimate 3,200,000 — 3,800,000 HKD. Lot sold 3,940,000 HKD. Photo: Sotheby's.

finely potted of hexagonal section, the facetted baluster body supported on a splayed foot, rising to a waisted neck flanked by a pair of tubular handles, covered overall with an attractive greyish-blue glaze of sky-blue tone, the glaze stopping neatly at the footring, inscribed to the base with the six-character seal mark in underglaze blue.

ProvenanceSotheby's Hong Kong, 20th May 1981, lot 822.

Note: Deceptively simple in form and design, this vase forms a marked contrast to the richly ornamented decorative style that is generally associated with the Qianlong period, and illustrates the technical perfection achieved by craftsmen working at the imperial kilns in Jingdezhen. Monochrome vessels required the highest level of skill and precision in every stage of their production, from the purity of the clay and precision of the potting to the evenness of the glaze and control of the firing. The slightest irregularity would result in the rejection and destruction of the piece, thus pushing the craftsmen to the limits of their abilities, particularly in the production of large vessels such as the current vase. The subtle glaze has been created in imitation of Ru ware, one of the ‘five great wares’ of the Song period (960-1279) along with Ding, geguan and Jun. It reflects the Qing emperors’ penchant for these early wares, which they not only collected but also commissioned the imperial kilns to recreate or imitate. Even the unglazed foot has been stained with a brown wash to simulate its predecessors.

See a closely related example of similar size from the collection of Sakamoto Gorō, sold in these rooms, 8th October 2014, lot 3508. Smaller vases of this type include one sold in our New York rooms, 23rd March 2011, lot 736; and another sold in these rooms, 26th October 2003, lot 50. For the Yongzheng prototype, see a guan-type vase from the Qing court collection and still in Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Monochrome Porcelain, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 204. Compare also an example sold in these rooms, 9th October 2007, lot 1534.


A fine Ru-type hexagonal vase, seal mark and period of Qianlong (1736-1795)

A fine Ru-type hexagonal vase, seal mark and period of Qianlong (1736-1795), from the collection of Sakamoto Gorō, 47.5 cm., 18 5/8  in. Sold for 3,640,000 HKD at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 8th October 2014, lot 3508. Photo: Sotheby's.

Cf. my post: A fine Ru-type hexagonal vase, seal mark and period of Qianlong (1736-1795)

Qianlong vases of this form are known in a number of different glazes; for example see one of similar size covered in a teadust glaze, published in Chinese Ceramics from the Idemitsu Collection, Tokyo, 1987, pl. 965; another from the Toguri Collection, Tokyo, sold in our London rooms, 9th June 2004, lot 3, and again in these rooms, 8th April 2010, lot 1822; a smaller vase with a sky-blue glaze, from the Hakutsuru Art Museum, Kobe, included in Sekai toji zenshu/Ceramic Art of the World, vol. 12, Tokyo, 1956, pl. 46; and a celadon-glazed example sold in these rooms, 25th November 1981, lot 323. The panelled shape of this vase was also suited to underglaze-blue designs; for example see one in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Treasures of the Royalty. The Official Kiln Porcelain of the Qing Dynasty, Shanghai, 2003, pl. 238. 

Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art, Hong Kong, 03 Oct 2017