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Lot 522. An extremely rare bronze-imitation gilt-splashed 'Bamboo' double vase, Qianlong seal mark and period (1736-1795). Height 5 in., 12.6 cm. Estimate 50,000 — 70,000 USD. Lot sold 187,500 USD. Courtesy Sotheby's.

finely potted, the two adjoining vases naturalistically modeled in the form of bamboo stalks with horizontal nodes, one vase slightly taller than the other, the exterior decorated with two lively chilong in high relief, one coiling around the lower section of one of the vessels, the other clambering up the side and peering over the rim, their long, curling bifurcated tails joining the two vessels, applied overall with a rich olive-brown glaze finely mottled with gilt flecking, the base of the larger vase with a gilt four-character seal markfeet.

Provenance: Collection of Stephen Junkunc, III (d. 1978).

NoteImitations of other materials were a challenge taken up by the Jingdezhen potters to display the great potential of their craft, and these wares appear to have particularly pleased the Qianlong emperor. The present vase, modeled after stalks of bamboo and applied with a metallic bronze-like glaze, demonstrates two ways in which the Jingdezhen potters rendered imitations of other materials in porcelain.

A small number of other vessels produced during the Qianlong period with the same innovative glaze are known. The vase on a rare Qianlong period conjoined double-gourd and shell group in the Qing Court Collection is applied with the same gilt-speckled glaze, as illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Monochrome Porcelain, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 246. A similarly glazed Qianlong mark and period washer enameled in gold and silver in imitation of inlaid bronze, from the Songzhutang Collection, is illustrated in Encompassing Precious Beauty. The Songzhutang Collection of Imperial Chinese Ceramics, Hong Kong, 2016, pl. 75. Compare also two Qianlong mark and period vessels applied with the same glaze, the first a lobed bottle vase formerly in the Asldorf Collection, sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 23rd March 1999, lot 750, and bamboo-form incense burner sold in the same rooms, 30th April 2001, lot 680. See also the bronze imitation, gilt and silver-decorated box and cover sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 6th April 2015, lot 3618.

Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art, New York, 20 March 2019