Lot 2125. A fine inscribed and enamelled 'Autumn pavilion' mallet-shaped vase, Qianlong period (1736-1795); 7 1/4 in. (18.5 cm.) high. Estimate HKD 6,000,000 - HKD 8,000,000. Price realised HKD 7,830,000. © Christie’s Images Limited 2012.
The rounded body of the vase is finely potted with a broad base and a rounded shoulder under a high cylindrical neck. The exterior is superbly decorated in polychrome enamels with a continuous landscape comprising an architectural complex and figures amongst craggy mountains partially shrouded by misty clouds and various trees. The reverse side is inscribed with a poem written in kaishu, standard script, followed by an iron-red seal mark, Qiuting, 'Autumn Pavilion', box.
Provenance: Sold at Sotheby's London, 14 November 2002, lot 503
Note: The short poem was composed by the Song dynasty poet, Dai Fugu (b. 1167), under the title 'Guanlan Pavilion of Xiangxi Temple', and may be translated as:
Pavilion east ashore, mountains to the west,
Xiaoxiang river lies amidst.
Red dust cannot the cyan waves reach,
Seagulls and white clouds leisurely drift across.
The Xiaoxiang refers to an area of south-central China located near the middle reaches of the Yangtze River in Hunan province. Part of the name was derived from the Xiang River and this region had a long association in Chinese history and classical literature as a desolate place where talented ministers and officials were sent into exile by somewhat feckless monarchs. The differing landscapes of the Xiaoxiang were painted by Song dynasty painters such as Li Shi of the 12th century, and popularised by later Ming artists.
This vase is painted with extraordinary artistry reflected in the composition of the decoration, the choice and use of colours, and the delicacy of the painting style. Two mallet-shaped vases of similar size painted in falangcai enamels with figures in landscapes in a similar style, formerly in the Alfred E. Hippisley and J. Insley Blair collections, are illustrated by Hippisley in A Catalogue of the Hippisley Collection of Chinese Porcelains: With A Sketch of the History of Ceramic Art in China, Washington, 1890, pl. 130 and A Sketch of the History of Ceramic Art in China, with a Catalogue of the Hippisley Collection of Chinese Porcelains, Washington, 1902, pl. 130, and later sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 28 November 2012, lots 2122 and 2123.
An important and very fine inscribed falangcai enamelled 'Lofty mountain' mallet-shaped vase, Yongzheng-Qianlong period (1723-1795); 7 1/8 in. (18 cm.) high. Sold for HKD 34,260,000 at Christie's Hong Kong, 28 November 2012, lot 2122. © Christie’s Images Limited 2012.
An important and very fine inscribed falangcai enamelled 'Beneath pine trees' mallet-shaped vase, Yongzheng-Qianlong period (1723-1795); 7 1/8 in. (18 cm.) high. Sold for HKD 35,380,000 at Christie's Hong Kong, 28 November 2012, lot 2123. © Christie’s Images Limited 2012.
Two other inscribed vases of this form and decorated in the famille rose palette appear to have been published. A vase of similar size and shape, dating to the Qianlong reign, painted with a delicate river landscape and bearing a poetic inscription is in the collection of Alan Chuang illustrated in The Alan Chuang Collection of Chinese Porcelain, Hong Kong 2009, no. 102. The other is a vase of similar size and shape from the Grandidier Collection, now in the Musée Guimet, Paris, decorated with a deeply coloured scene of mountains and rivers illustrated in Oriental Ceramics - the World's Great Collections, vol. 7, Musée Guimet, Paris , Tokyo, 1981, no. 192.
Vase bouteille à décor de paysage dit "vase maillet" poème calligraphié en émail noir "les pagodes enveloppées d'une pluie brumeuse", règne de Qianlong (1736-1795), porcelaine de la famille rose, H: 18,5 cm. Collection Ernest Grandidier, G3464. Paris, musée Guimet - musée national des Arts asiatiques. Photo © RMN-Grand Palais (MNAAG, Paris) / Thierry Ollivier
Two related vases enamelled with landscape scenes, and both dating to the Yongzheng period, are known but are without the poetic inscriptions. The first, decorated with a scene of scholars in boats and pavilions along the shore amongst trees and mountains is in the collection of the Beijing Capital Museum illustrated in Treasures from Ancient Beijing, New York, 2000, no. 27. The other, also decorated with scholars standing on a promontory looking out over a river landscape, is in the collection of the Beijing Palace Museum, illustrated in Sun Yingzhou de Ciqi Shijie, Beijing, 2003, pp. 222-3.
Christie's. Imperial Sale; Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, 29 May 2013, Hong Kong, HKCEC Grand Hall