Lot 2122. A very rare famille-rose 'Floral' vase, Yongzheng four-character mark and of the period (1723-1735); 15 in. (38 in.) high. Estimate HKD 4,000,000 - HKD 6,000,000. Price realised HKD 6,030,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2013
The vase is delicately potted with steep sides rising to rounded shoulders surmounted by a waisted neck and a galleried rim. The body is elegantly painted with a butterfly finely picked out in yellow, fuchsia and sky-blue in flight above flower sprays including peonies, chrsyanthemum, roses and lily issuing from pierced rockwork, while another butterfly soars nearby.
Property of the Yiqingge Collection.
Provenance: Sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 3 May 1994, lot 228
Note: The present vase appears to be unique as no other vase of this exceptionally rare form appears to be published. The form reflects the avid interest in antiquity in the 18th century when Qing emperors were all ardent antiquarians who collected and studied material from earlier dynasties. Specifically, the present form may be inspired by Han bronze hu, such as the example published in the Xiqing Gujian, 'Inspection of Antiquities' (fig. 1), which shares a striking similarity with the present vase in its treatment of the waisted elongated neck with two bowstring bands.
fig. 1. Xiqing Gujian, 'Inspection of Antiquities'
Another very interesting feature of this vase is its remarkably painterly depiction of the scene which had been rendered with great skill and making excellent use of the newly developed pink enamel. The thick application of enamels, particularly evident on the petals of the peonies and the leaves, suggests that the present vase is more likely to have been early in the Yongzheng period. Compare to two famille rose 'floral' dishes in the Beijing Palace Museum, illustrated in Porcelain with Cloisonne Enamel Decoration and Famille Rose Decoration, The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Hong Kong, 1999, pp. 70-71, nos. 60-61. The present vase and the Palace Museum examples share the same painterly quality that is characteristic of the early Yongzheng period.
The base of the present vase bears a four-character mark written in two lines, which is very rarely seen on Yongzheng-marked pieces. Compare to an iron-red decorated pear-shaped vase with the same type of mark sold at Christie's New York, 30 March 2005, lot 414.
Christie's. IMPERIAL SALE: IMPORTANT CHINESE CERAMICS AND WORKS OF ART. 29 May 2013. Convention Hall.