A fine and rare blue-glazed bottle vase, Mark and period of Yongzheng (1723-1735)

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Lot 3658. A fine and rare blue-glazed bottle vase, Mark and period of Yongzheng (1723-1735); 33.2 cm, 13 in. Estimate 1,500,000 — 2,500,000 HKD. Lot sold 4,000,000 HKD (515,240 USD). Courtesy Sotheby's.

sturdily potted with a globular body resting on a recessed base and surmounted by a tall neck flaring at the rim, the exterior covered with a rich lapis glaze thinning slightly beneath the white-edged rim and ending neatly above the unglazed footring, the interior and recessed base left white, the latter inscribed with a six-character reign mark within a double circle.

ProvenanceCollection of Edward T. Chow (1910-1980). 
Sotheby's Hong Kong, 19th May 1981, lot 5040.

NoteThis vase is an archetypal example of Yongzheng monochrome porcelain in its gracefulness and refinement of form. Under the emperor’s keen eye, which was steeped in a thorough knowledge of the antiquities in the imperial collection, a profusion of new shapes and colour emerged which was only possible through the great technical advances that were achieved by his reign.

The rich cobalt blue seen on the current vase is referred to as 'sacrificial blue'. This name derives from the use of vessels bearing this colour glaze during sacrifices at the Imperial Altar of Heaven. As outlined by Iain Clark in Blessings and Guidance. the Qianlong Emperor's design for state sacrificial vessels, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2019, p. 27, the Altar to Heaven was linked with the deep blue colour of the sky.

The form of the current vase is extremely rare. However, two larger Yongzheng reign-marked vases of similar form have been sold at auction, the first in these rooms, 20th November 1984, lot 486, the second at Christie's New York, 16th September 1998, lot 393. For a Yongzheng reign-marked monochrome vase sharing the same rich sacrifical-blue glaze, see the olive-shape vase sold in these rooms, 8th April 2011, lot 3001.

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 A Fine Sacrificial-Blue Olive Shape Vase, Mark and Period of Yongzheng (1723-1735); 40.8 cm., 16 in. Sold for 16,340,000 HKD (2,094,872 USD) at Sotheby's HongKong 8th April 2011, lot 3001. Courtesy Sotheby's.

Cf. my post: A Fine Sacrificial-Blue Olive Shape Vase, Mark and Period of Yongzheng (1723-1735)

Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art, Hong Kong, 03 Apr 2019