A large blue and white 'Shoulao' double gourd vase, Ming dynasty, Jiajing period (1522-1566)

Lot 885. A large blue and white 'Shoulao' double gourd vase, Ming dynasty, Jiajing period (1522-1566). Height 22 in., 55.9 cm. Estimate 15,000 — 25,000 USD. Lot sold 18,750 USD. Courtesy Sotheby's.

robustly potted, the bud-shaped upper lobe decorated with stylized shou character central medallions, surrounded by regular script shou character roundels alternating in radiating stylized and ruyi-head cloud borders, all below a band of ruyi-head border at the rim, the waisted neck painted with similar shou medallions, the lower bulb of square section, boldly painted on each side with a medallion depicting Shoulao holding a ruyi and enjoying burning incense, surrounded by eight shou character alternating in regular and seal script roundels amidst clouds, all above swirling waves around the foot, the base unglazed.

Provenance: German Private Collection, acquired in the 1920s.

Note: A related, smaller double gourd vase, from the Palace Museum, Beijing, but with a different design of medallions enclosing the Eight Immortals on the lower section, and crane among clouds decorating the upper section, is illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Blue and White with Underglazed Red (II), Hong Kong, 2000, pl. 85; and another related vase, from the Matsuoka Art Museum, Tokyo, decorated on the lower section with roundels enclosing mythological beasts, and on the upper section with Shoulao enclosed in a medallion, all among smaller shou-roundels, is illustrated in Mayuyama, Seventy Years, Tokyo, 1976, vol. I, pl. 868. Compare also another vase from the Chinese History Museum, Beijing, of a smaller size, and rounder and more slender shoulders, with the Eight Immortals and cranes among clouds, but of varying design, illustrated in The Complete Works of Chinese Ceramics, vol. 12, Shanghai, 1999,  pl. 145; see also a vase illustrated by R. L. Hobson in The George Eumorfopoulos Collection, London, 1927, pl. 1, fig. D 24, of smaller proportions and rounder shoulders, decorated on the square section with medallions of children playing in a garden scene, and on the globular section with the Eight Immortals paying tribute to Shoulao. A similar vase, but decorated on the lower section with large roundels enclosing an image of Shoulao, among several smaller shou-roundels, with the upper section decorated with xi-roundels among smaller shou-roundels, was sold at Christie's London, 9th June 1997, lot 67.

Sotheby's Important Chinese Art, New York, 11 september 2019