Lot 158. A fine and extremely rare celadon-glazed ‘Longevity and Blessings’ rectangular vase (Fanghu), Qianlong seal mark and period (1736-1795). Height 13 3/4 in., 34.9 cm. Estimate 1,200,000 — 1,600,000 USD. Lot sold 1,445,000 USD. Photo: Sotheby's.
the pear-shaped vase of rectangular section supported on a tall straight foot of conforming shape, the body molded with peach-shaped panels on either side, tapering to a waisted quatrelobed neck applied with two square section lug handles, each side similarly carved within the raised panels with a trio of bats encircling a knotted ribbon fluttering above a peach bough issuing three clusters of ripe fruit, set amongst delicately scrolling lotus centered by shou medallions, a band of further stylized lotus around the neck surmounted by two further foliate borders, covered overall in a lustrous and brilliant sea-green glaze pooling to a slightly darker tone within carved recesses, the base with a six-character seal mark in underglaze-blue.
Provenance: Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Earl Morse, New York.
Christie’s New York, 30th November 1983, lot 156.
Note: The present vase appears to be a unique example of the form with its distinctive and auspicious carved decoration symbolizing longevity and happiness. Imperial Qing dynasty celadon-glazed examples of the squared archaic hu-form include a Yongzheng period vase of larger size with ribbed decoration which sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 8th April 2011, lot 3014 and another of similar form but without carving and with a Qianlong seal mark was sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 23rd October 2005 lot 324. A hexagonal celadon vase of closely related design and with a Qianlong seal mark was sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 30th April 1991, lot 92 and illustrated in Peter Lam, Ethereal Elegance, Porcelain Vases of the Imperial Qing, The Huahaitang Collection, Hong Kong, 2008, no. 50. A hexagonal vase with carved lotus and chrysanthemum meander was sold in our Hong Kong rooms 8th October 2013, lot 3018.
The fanghu was a form favored during the archaistic revival of the Song dynasty when celadon-glazed examples were made at the Longquan kilns. For an example seeIllustrated Catalogue of Sung Dynasty Porcelain in the National Palace Museum. Lung-ch’uan Ware, Ko Ware and Other Wares, Taipei, 1974, pl. 1. Ru and Guan ware examples are also known and the form continued its popularity into the Ming dynasty. The Qing dynasty also saw a strong revival of ancient forms and glazes and the Qianlong emperor shared the enthusiasm of his father, the Yongzheng emperor for archaism. The Qianlong emperor’s fondness for imperial stonewares of the Song dynasty (960-1279) was so profound that many of the pieces in his collection are inscribed with poetry inspired by them. The present piece would have appealed to the emperor not only for its ancient form, its celadon glaze referencing the Song dynasty but also the fine and delicate symmetrical Mughal-influenced carving that added an exotic cosmopolitanism which would have been an apt reflection of his far-reaching reign.
The present vase was in the collection of Earl and Irene Morse. The New York City based couple amassed a large collection of Chinese works of art including paintings, sculpture and porcelain. The celadon-glazed porcelain fanghu was among the highlights of the sale of the collection in 1983 and is mentioned as such in the Morse’s biographical entry in Roy Davids and Dominic Jellinek, Provenance, England, 2011, p. 332.
Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art, New York, 16 sept. 2014