Lot 330. A quadrangular famille-verte 'Three Star Gods' vase, Qing dynasty, Kangxi period (1662-1722). Height 24 3/4 in., 62.8 cm. Estimate 80,000 — 120,000 USD. © Sotheby's
of square section, the tapered rectangular sides supported on a spreading foot and rising to a canted shoulder and flaring neck with a galleried rim, each side with a molded deity and boy holding various attributes under high relief rockwork issuing pine, prunus, and peach branches, the scenes painted with further foliage, wisps of clouds, and poetic couplets, all between borders of scrolling peony and lotus against a speckled ground, the neck applied each side with a pair of 'antique' vessels molded in high relief, set between green ground bands of keyfret, the recessed base and foot unglazed, wire-inlaid weighted wood stand (2), coll. no. 343.
The Jie Rui Tang Collection.
Provenance: Probably from the Collection of William Hesketh Lever (1851-1925), 1st Viscount Leverhulme.
Collection of William Hulme Lever (1888-1949), 2nd Viscount Leverhulme, and recorded in the 1949 inventory as T034.
Collection of Philip William Bryce Lever (1915-2000), Honourable 3rd Viscount Leverhulme, KG TD, Thornton Manor, Wirral, Merseyside.
Sotheby's London, 26th-28th June 2001, lot 106.
Marchant, London, 2001.
Literature: Jeffrey P. Stamen and Cynthia Volk with Yibin Ni, A Culture Revealed: Kangxi-era Chinese Porcelain from the Jie Rui Tang Collection, Bruges, 2017, pl. 81.
Note: This vase is richly decorated with applied and painted details. The principal subject is the 'Three Star Gods' (sanxing), Fu, Lu, and Shou, and the legendary archer Houyi, who each receive their own side of the vase, a youthful companion, and a propitious poetic inscription. The figures each bear auspicious meaning, with the Star Gods respectively connoting happiness, wealth, and longevity. Houyi signifies immortality as this was his reward for shooting down nine of the ten suns thereby regulating the climate and allowing the earth to thrive. The 'Precious Objects' around the vase's neck and floral scrolls further contribute to the positive messaging.
The vase demonstrates the technical achievements of Kangxi potters. The shape and weight of the vase presented considerable challenges to the potter, who inventively applied hidden struts to the rim and interior to uphold the ambitious vessel. The figures and branches, too, are well-formed in unprecedentedly high relief with some features modeled fully in the round for naturalistic effect. Each scene is enlivened with masterfully applied overglaze enamels and gilt accents.
Kangxi period vases with appliques of immortals or antiques were made in both quadrangular and round forms. A rouleauvase with the 'Hundred Antiques' applied from the Qing Court Collection, now in the Palace Museum, is illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures from the Palace Museum: Porcelains in Polychrome and Contrasting Colors, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 143. Two ovoid vases with applied decorations of the 'Three Star Gods' and the 'Eight Daoist Immortals', respectively, are in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum (coll. nos C.1255-1910 and C.1257-1910). A square-section vase with the subject matter and style of the present example in the Mr. and Mrs. Charles Taft Collection is illustrated in John Getz, A Catalogue of Chinese Porcelains collected by Mr. and Mrs. Charles P. Taft, Cincinnati, Ohio, New York, 1904, cat. no. 69. A second example from the collection of Frederick J. and Antoinette H. Van Slyke sold in these rooms, 31st May 1989, lot 106, and again at Christie's New York, 29th March 2006, lot 482. A closely related example featuring the Hehe Erxian with the 'Three Star Gods', from the collection of Allen J. Mercher and the J.T. Tai & Company, sold in these rooms, 22nd March 2011, lot 107.
Vase, porcelain with relief decoration painted in overglaze enamels and gilded, China, Qing dynasty, Kangxi period (1662-1722). Height: 31.8 cm, Diameter: 15.2 cm. Salting Bequest, C.1255-1910 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London 2017.
Vase, porcelain with relief decoration painted in overglaze enamels and gilded, China, Qing dynasty, Kangxi period (1662-1722). Height: 45.1 cm, Diameter: 19.4 cm. Salting Bequest, C.1257-1910 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London 2017.