Lot 322. A large blue and white double-gourd vase, Jiajing mark and period (1522-1566); 45cm., 17 3/4 in. Estimate 40,000 — 60,000 GBP. Lot sold 145,250 GBP. Photo Sotheby's
the lower bulb brilliantly painted in cobalt blue with deer and cranes amongst a garden landscape with the ‘Three Friends of Winter’ and a fruiting peach tree, below scrolling peaches and a pendent lappet band, the upper bulb painted with stylised shou characters and a pair of cranes amidst lingzhi sprigs, prunus and bamboo, the neck the foot encircled with bands of scrolling foliage, inscribed to the base with a six-character Jiajing mark.
Note: The present vase is impressive for its size, robust potting and decoration in vibrant blue cobalt which is characteristic of ceramics wares made during Jiajing's reign. The design, much favoured by the emperor, is rich in symbolism: the wish for long life is represented by the cranes, peaches and lingzhi fungus, while the twisted branch on the upper bulb forms the character for longevity, shou.
A similar vase from the Harry Oppenheim collection and now in the British Museum, London, is illustrated in Jessica Harrison-Hall, Chinese Ceramics, London, 2001, pl. 9:35, together with a larger double-gourd vase painted with figures in a landscape, pl. 9.36. Another slightly larger vessel of this form and decoration, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, is published in Suzanne G. Valenstein, A Handbook of Chinese Ceramics, New York, 1975, pl. 166, where the author notes that although quantity became the ultimate goal at the Jingdezhen kilns and enormous orders from the Palace were to be filled, Jiajing wares can be appreciated for their enthusiastic, somewhat insouciant style and high spirited quality (ibid., p. 187).
Double gourd-shaped bottle with underglaze blue decoration, Ming dynasty, Jiajing mark and period (1522-1566); 44,5 x 23 cm. Bequeathed by Henry J Oppenheim, 1947,0712.212 © Trustees of the British Museum
Large double gourd-shaped porcelain bottle with underglaze blue decoration, Ming dynasty, Jiajing mark and period (1522-1566); 55 x 31 cm. Donated by Sir Augustus Wollaston Franks, Franks.1672 © Trustees of the British Museum
Gourd-Shaped Bottle with Deer and Crane in Landscape, Ming dynasty (1368–1644), Jiajing mark and period (1522–66), mid-16th century. Porcelain painted in cobalt blue under clear glaze (Jingdezhen ware). H. 18 in. (45.7 cm); Diam. 9 3/4 in. (24.8 cm). Purchase, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund and Anonymous Gift, 1965; 65.56.2 © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art. London, 07 nov. 2012