Lot 1604. A rare gilt-decorated teadust ' pomegranate' vase, Seal mark and period of Qianlong (1736-1795); 20.5 cm., 8 1/8 in. Est. 1,500,000—1,800,000 HKD. Lot Sold 2,900,000 HKD. photo courtesy Sotheby's 2009.
the tri-lobed globular body rising to a tall neck with an everted lip, supported on a splayed foot, covered overall in an olive-green teadust glaze gilded with chrysanthemum scrolls throughout, the shoulders surmounted by a high-relief modeled branch of pomegrante wrapping itself around the neck in various stages of development, with a fully ripe fruit bursting through the skin revealing the seeded red flesh, another with the petals of the red flower withering as the fruit begins to form, the shoulders further set with a bough of lingzhi fungus, the base incised with a six-character seal mark dressed in brown.
Provenance: Sotheby's Hong Kong, 5th December 1979, lot 661.
Note: The present piece is a good example of the innovative and unconventional designs achieved in ceramic production in the Qianlong period. In order to satisfy his own flamboyant taste, the Qianlong Emperor is known to have commissioned artists working in the Imperial kilns at Jingdezhen to make pieces that were highly challenging and original, often placing more emphasis on the showier aspects of production and the virtuosity of craftsmanship. The refinement of the materials and techniques provided the means for artists to be ambitious in their repertoire, as seen in the expertly moulded and carved porcelain fruiting branch that contrasts effectively with the delicate gilded floral design covering the vase.
A vase of closely related form and design, but on a brown ground and with a turquoise-glazed interior, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated in Kangxi, Yongzheng, Qianlong. Qing Porcelain from the Palace Museum Collection, Hong Kong, 1989, p. 363, pl. 44. Compare also related vases with teadust glaze and fruiting branch decoration, but without the gilded design; one in the British Museum, London, included in Soame Jenyns, Later Chinese Porcelain, London, 1971, pl. XCIX, no. 1; one in the W.T. Walters Collection, published in S.W. Bushell, Oriental Ceramic Art, London, 1980, p. 217, fig. 283; and a pair of vases, offered at Christie's Hong Kong, 31st October 2000, lot 913.
Pomegranates represent the wish for many sons while the lingzhi fungus is symbolic of longevity.
Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art, Hong Kong, 08 Oct 2009