A large blue and white 'dragon' vase, Qing dynasty, 18th-early 19th century

Lot 150. A large blue and white 'dragon' vase, Qing dynasty, 18th-early 19th century;  177⁄8 in., 45.4 cmEstimate: 30,000-50,000 USD. Sold Price: 137,500 USD. Courtesy Sotheby's

of yuhuchun form, rising from a splayed foot to a pear-shaped body and a flared rim, painted in vibrant cobalt blue tones with two animated four-clawed dragons striding amidst cloud scrolls in pursuit of a 'flaming pearl' above a tumultuous sea, the foot with five soaring bats (wufu) between blue lines.

Provenance: Collection of Courtland Field Bishop (1870-1935). 
Donated to the Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1922

ExhibitedBerkshire Museum, Pittsfield, MA.

Note: The present yuhuchun ping is notable for its grand size, standing significantly taller than other vases of this type. It is also remarkable for its decoration. In the 18th and 19th centuries, yuhuchun vases were either produced with a monochrome glaze or painted in underglaze blue, with the latter almost exclusively painted with either the standard 'bamboo and plantain' garden or with allover floral patterns. The exception is a Qianlong seal mark and period blue and white 'dragon' yuhuchun sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 15th May 1990, lot 151. On the Christie's example, which is of standard size, the dragons stride across a field of scrolling lotus, all between typical border motifs comprised of plantain leaves, classic scroll, pendent ruyi heads, lappets, and lotus at the neck and foot. On the present vase, the tonality of the cobalt blue and the treatment of the dragons, particularly their bushy manes and elongated toes and claws, compare favorably to other blue and white vases of the late 18th to early 19th centuries, including a Jiaqing seal mark and period bottle vase sold in these rooms, 13th September 2017, lot 22, and a pair of unmarked blue and white 'dragon' vases attributed to the Qianlong / Jiaqing period sold at Christie's New York, 13th-14th September 2012, lot 1461.

Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art, New York, 12 Sep 2018