A fine and rare guan-type vase, Seal mark and period of Qianlong


Lot 3618. A fine and rare guan-type vase, Seal mark and period of Qianlong (1736-1795); 34.3 cm., 13 1/2  in. Estimate 2,000,000 — 3,000,000 HKD. Lot Sold 2,560,000 HKD. Photo: Sotheby's.

of archaistic hu form, well potted with a slender ovoid body rising from a slightly splayed base to a waisted neck and a slightly flared mouth, the neck flanked by a pair of tubular lug handles, covered overall in a thick caesius-coloured glaze suffused with a network of light grey and colourless crackles, save for the rounded footring dressed in a dark brown wash in imitation of Song dynasty guan ware, the base inscribed in underglaze blue with a six-character seal mark.

NoteThe elegant form of this vase is heightened through the matrix of crackles in the luminous glaze which has been made in imitation of guan ware of the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279).  The unusual form is recorded as a Yongzheng innovation in Geng Baochang, Ming Qing ciqi jianding, Hong Kong, 1993, p. 234, fig. 10; a related guan-type vase, with a Yongzheng reign mark and of the period, was sold in these rooms, 8th October 2013, lot 3128. 

As with many Yongzheng and Qianlong monochrome wares, this vessel is a reinterpretation of an archaic bronze hu form which was first developed by craftsmen working at the Guan kilns. The Song version is closer to its bronze prototype, with its pear-shaped body, long tubular handles and raised horizontal ribs which echo the cast decorative bands; for example see three vases from the Qing Court collection and still in Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Porcelain of the Song Dynasty (II), Hong Kong, 1996, pls 40-42. However the craftsman of the present piece has taken greater liberty with the shape and merged the handles and glaze of the Song vase with the olive form (ganlanping) of the Kangxi period, also included in Geng, op. cit., p. 190, fig. 10.

Compare Qianlong vases of related form, but with a more pronounced curve of the body and decorated with green dragons on a yellow ground, such as one in the Palace Museum, Beijing, published in Kangxi. Yongzheng. Qianlong. Qing Porcelain from the Palace Museum, Hong Kong, 1989, p. 215, pl. 44; and another sold at Christie’s New York, 17th September 2008, lot 480.

Sotheby’s. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, Hong Kong , 08 oct. 2014