Lot 149. A rare and unusual underglaze-blue and copper-red 'Squirrel and grapevine' vase, Qing dynasty, Kangxi period (1662-1722). Height 17 in., 43 cm. Estimate 6,000 — 8,000 USD. Lot sold 12,500 USD. © Sotheby's.
of attenuated baluster form, finely painted with two leafy grapevines with spreading branches laden with ripe fruit highlighted in copper red, lively squirrels clinging to the branches amid the curling tendrils, all beneath two leafy and fruit-laden vine sections encircling the neck, apocryphal six-character Chenghua mark in underglaze blue.
Provenance: Sotheby's New York, 7th May 1981, lot 225.
Christie's London, 7th March 1984, lot 135.
Berwald Oriental Art, New York, 17th December 2007.
Note: Grapes in Chinese are called putao, the syllable tao, being a homophone for the word 'peach' which is a symbol of longevity. Squirrels are called songshu, the syllable song being the name for 'pine', which also represents longevity. In addition, the spreading vines with numerous fruit and seeds of the grape, also represent the flourishing and continuation of the family line. The finely painted motif on this vase therefore carries that hope that one will have a long life and that the family line will flourish and grow with lots of progeny.
Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art. New York, 19 march 2013