Lot 103. An exceptional and rare white jade zhadou, Qing dynasty, 18th century; 17.9 cm, 7 in. Estimate 2,000,000 — 3,000,000 HKD (254,660 - 381,990 USD). Lot sold 12,175,000 HKD (1,550,243 USD). Courtesy Sotheby's
superbly worked with a tapered body rising from a short foot to a waisted neck and flared mouth-rim, the translucent stone of an even white colour with tiny russet patches to the foot, wood stand.
Provenance: Sotheby's Hong Kong, 30th November 1980, lot 542 and cover.
Exhibited: Ip Yee, Chinese Jade Carving, Min Chiu Society, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1983, cat. no. 222.
Literature: Sotheby's Hong Kong – Twenty Years, 1973-1993, Hong Kong, 1993, pl. 506.
This seemingly undecorated zhadou is an understated example of the amalgamation of the technical craftsmanship, quality of resources and reverence of antiquity at the imperial court in China in the 18th century.
Note: The form of the vessel derives from ceramic spittoon vessels, which started being produced in the Tang dynasty, and the use of a translucent white boulder was very likely a deliberate choice to emulate the white ceramic zhadou of the Tang dynasty, such as one of similar size from the Eumorfopoulos collection, now in the British Museum, London, published on the Museum’s website, no. 1940,0413.79.
The current zhadou is also extremely rare in its large size and even translucency. The craftsman, through a seemingly plain yet superbly polished surface, was able to showcase fully the exceptional quality of the boulder without hiding original flaws in the stone with carved designs. Whilst other 18th-century zhadou are known, the current vessel appears to be the largest of the recorded examples. For smaller examples, see one sold in these rooms, 8th October 2014, lot 3738; another, sold in our London rooms, 29th June 1976, lot 60, from the collection of F.W. Tingle; and a third sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 28th May 2014, lot 3565.
White jade zhadou of the Qing dynasty were also decorated on the exterior. For two examples in the Palace Museum, Beijing, see an early Qing vessel decorated on the exterior with three dragon medallions and one with a Jiaqing yuyong mark, worked with archaistic kui dragons, published in Jadeware (III), The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Hong Kong, 1995, cat. nos 194 and 195. See also a lobed example displayed in a duobaoge, a shelf used to store curios for the emperor in the Forbidden City, illustrated in Wan Yi, et. al., Life in the Forbidden City of Qing Dynasty, Beijing, 2009, no. 217.
Lot 121. A superbly carved and rare white jade barbed vase, gu, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1795); 20.8 cm, 8 1/8 in. Estimate 3,000,000 — 5,000,000 HKD (381,990 - 636,650 USD). Lot sold 12,175,000 HKD (1,550,243 USD). Courtesy Sotheby's
exceptionally worked with a flaring trumpet neck divided into six petal lobes of bracket foliations, each meticulously accentuated with sharply defined ridges with corresponding grooves, resting on a central section and splayed hollow foot of corresponding form, all supported on a stepped square-cut foot, the stone of an even white colour with cloudy inclusions, wood stand.
Provenance: Sotheby's Hong Kong, 20th May 1981, lot 891.
Literature: Sotheby’s Hong Kong – Twenty Years, 1973-1993, Hong Kong, 1993, pl. 505.
Sotheby's Thirty Years in Hong Kong: 1973-2003, Hong Kong, 2003, pl. 377.
This seemingly undecorated zhadou is an understated example of the amalgamation of the technical craftsmanship, quality of resources and reverence of antiquity at the imperial court in China in the 18th century.
Note: Deceptively simple in its refined form and restrained decoration, the technical prowess and artistic imagination of jade carvers during the Qianlong period is displayed in this magnificent vase. The form of this piece draws inspiration from archaic bronze wine vessels, gu, made in the Shang (16th century-c.1046 BC) and Western Zhou (c.1046-771 BC) dynasties, skilfully adapted to suit the refined taste of the Emperor. The robust shape of the bronze prototype was transformed into a graceful barbed silhouette that resembles the upper view of an open flower, and the bold designs of the original, which were meant to increase their dramatic appearance, are replaced by undecorated surfaces. The result is a vase that appears modern yet steeped in classical symbolism, and one that also epitomises the aesthetic ideal of elegant simplicity.
The present vase represents one of the most graceful and successful reinterpretation of the bronze gu shape and epitomises the antiquarian nature that characterises jade carvings of this period. An erudite scholar and passionate collector of antiques, the Qianlong Emperor’s love for the past was grounded in his admiration for Chinese history and influenced by Confucian philosophy, which emphasised the study of history in the pursuit of virtue. The Qianlong Emperor actively influenced jade production, criticising the ‘vulgar’ style popular in the 18th century as excessively ornate, and urging craftsmen to study antique vessels and adapt them to the jade medium. The Xiqing gujian [Catalogue of Xiqing antiquities], which was compiled by court artists between 1749 and 1755, and comprised line drawings of some 1500 objects in the imperial collection, was circulated among craftsmen who were encouraged to take inspiration from it.
Vases of this elegant form and such restrained decoration are rare. A celadon jade vase of this form but fashioned with four handles, was sold in our London rooms, 27th June 1974, lot 35; a spinach-green jade example with two handles was sold in our London rooms, 11th May 2011, lot 300; and another of larger size, from the Qing court collection and still in Beijing, is illustrated in Compendium of Collections in the Palace Museum. Jade, vol. 10: Qing Dynasty, Beijing, 2011, pl. 80.
Barbed vases are also known carved with taotie masks on the raised mid-section. Compare a vase in the De An Tang collection, included in the exhibition A Romance with Jade, Palace Museum, Beijing, 2004, cat. no. 126; and another from the collection of Major R.W. Cooper, sold twice at Christie’s London in 1963 and 2008, and most recently at Christie’s Hong Kong, 1st December 2010, lot 3059.
The barbed shape of this vase, which combines graceful curves and sharp ridges, was also experimented on vases of stouter and broader proportions, which were inspired by archaic bronze zun. See for example a vase also with animal-head handles, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated op. cit., pl. 49.
Lot 107. A superb white jade 'quail' box and cover, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1795); 14.1 cm, 5 1/2 in. Estimate 2,000,000 — 3,000,000 HKD (254,660 - 381,990 USD). Lot sold 7,135,000 HKD (908,500 USD). Courtesy Sotheby's
of circular section, the flat top of the cover finely worked with two quail, one rendered perched on a rocky promontory and the other sweeping downwards, each bird superbly depicted with fine plumage, the scene further decorated with millet stems issuing from behind jagged rockwork with small lingzhi blooms nearby, all enclosed within a raised circular band repeated at the rim, the box supported on a short straight foot, the lustrous stone of an even white colour, wood stand.
Note: This charming box is delicately carved with an auspicious motif of two quail among millet sprays. The frozen movement of the two birds, the swaying millet sprays and the undecorated background, successfully capture a sense of quiet stillness.
The composition follows in the tradition of ‘flower-and-bird’ paintings that can be traced back to as early as the Five Dynasties period (906-60 AD). A distinctive painting genre from the Song dynasty (960-1279) onwards, flower-and-bird paintings were typically created by academy painters working for the court and were a favourite subject of the great imperial connoisseur, collector and amateur painter, Zhao Ji, the Huizong Emperor (r. 1101-25 AD) himself. This genre continued to develop after the court moved to Hangzhou in Zhejiang province, and thereby established the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279). The asymmetrical composition of the design, with the majority of pictorial elements on the lower left corner of the cover, is reminiscent of flower-and-bird paintings of this period.
Boxes of this size and carved with this motif are unusual. Compare a smaller box decorated with magpies perched on a pomegranate branch, in the British Museum, London, illustrated in Jessica Rawson, Chinese Jade from the Neolithic to the Qing, London, 1995, pl. 29:11, possibly the same box from the collection of Geoffrey C. Hughes, sold at Christie’s New York, 27th November 1991, lot 191; and another carved with a prunus branch, sold in our New York rooms, 31st March / 1st April 2005, lot 77. See also a flattened jade vase, carved on the body with this motif, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Zhongguo yuqi quanji [Complete collection of Chinese jades], vol. 6, Shijiazhuang, 1993, pl. 217; and another in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, is published in Ming Wilson, Chinese Jades, London, 2004, pl. 50.
Boxes of this circular form were used for holding incense, and often displayed together with an incense burner and a small vase. Two jade garniture sets of this type, but the boxes carved on the cover with different motifs, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, are illustrated in Compendium of Collections in the Palace Museum. Jade, vol. 10: Qing Dynasty, Beijing, 2011, pls 112 and 113.
Lot 124. A finely carved white jade 'pine' vase, Qing dynasty, 18th century; 18.7 cm, 7 3/8 in. Estimate 600,000 — 800,000 HKD (76,398 - 101,864 USD). Lot sold 5,335,000 HKD (679,306 USD). Courtesy Sotheby's
the tapering vessel superbly modelled as a section of a tree trunk, the scaly bark interrupted by burls and knots, intricately worked to the exterior with gnarled branches issuing clusters of pine needles, the smoothly polished stone of an even white tone suffused with occasional russet patches and veins.
Note: This vase is notable for its vibrant high-relief carving and naturalistic modelling of the pine branches which wrap around the trunk. Vases of this type were inspired by vessels for the scholar’s desk made from bamboo and carved in high relief in the style of the three Zhus, a renowned family of bamboo carvers, active from the 16th century. See for example a bamboo brushpot signed Zhu He, in the Nanjing Museum, included in the exhibition Literati Spirit, Art of Chinese Bamboo Carving, Shanghai Museum, Shanghai, 2012, cat. no. 1.
A slightly larger white jade vessel similarly carved as a pine trunk in the Palace Museum, Beijing is illustrated in Scholar’s Paraphernalia. Classics of the Forbidden City, Beijing, 2015, pl. 37; one of slightly smaller size from the De An Tang collection was included in the exhibition A Romance with Jade, Palace Museum, Beijing, 2004, cat. no. 9; another from the collection of Alan and Simone Hartman, was illustrated in Robert Kleiner, Chinese Jades, Hong Kong, 1996, pl. 111; and a fourth example, from the collection of Ernest and Helen Dane, now in the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, was included in the Asia Society exhibition Chinese Jades from Han to Ch’ing, The Asia House Gallery, New York, 1980, cat. no. 108.
Lot 117. A superb white jade reticulated 'bajixiang' bowl and cover, lian, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1795); 16 cm, 6 1/4 in. Estimate 2,000,000 — 3,000,000 HKD (254,660 - 381,990 USD). Lot sold 4,000,000 HKD (509,320 USD). Courtesy Sotheby's
with deep rounded sides resting on five short splayed cusped feet, the rim bordered with a wide flat cusped rim finely reticulated with sixteen cartouches enclosing the bajixiang emblems alternating with stylised beribboned motifs, the domed cover surmounted by a large finial worked in the form of a pierced floral bloom with veins incised to the petals, further surrounded by a lappet border, all above a raised band encircling the rim, the lustrous stone of an even white colour with white veins, wood stand.
Note: Crafted from a boulder of luminous white tone and accentuated by exuberant carved decoration in openwork, the present bowl and cover testifies the pursuit of harmonious beauty and adroit draughtsmanship in jade carvings during the Qianlong period.
Bowls and covers of this form, also known as lian, served as vessels to carry grooming tools and cosmetics in ancient China. In the Qing imperial court, such bowls were often fashioned from wood, and either adorned with auspicious carved decoration or inlaid with jade. Jade bowls as such would have been a testament to the owner’s family status and wealth, and sometimes formed part of a lady’s dowry.
A bowl and cover in the Palace Museum, Beijing, of similar form and also adorned with a pronounced everted rim, is illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures from the Palace Museum. Jadeware (III), Hong Kong, 1995, pl. 198. Noteworthy is that the majority of the surface of the present bowl has been left plain and undecorated, this treatment is probably intentional to draw attention to the natural beauty and even stone colour of the present bowl, which excels that of the Palace Museum example.
Compare a bowl and cover of similar form but carved with dragons, illustrated in Robert Kleiner, Chinese Jades from the Collection of Alan and Simone Hartman, Hong Kong, 1996, pl. 79; and another similarly decorated with the bajixiang but in shallow relief, sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 27th November 2013, lot 3398.
Lot 110. An exceptional and massive white jade octagonal vase and cover, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1795); 34.2 cm, 13 3/8 in. Estimate 3,000,000 — 4,000,000 HKD (381,990 - 509,320 USD). Lot sold 3,750,000 HKD (477,488 USD). Courtesy Sotheby's
of octagonal section and generous proportions, the substantial and attractive white boulder superbly worked with an ovoid body sweeping up to an angled shoulder and surmounted by a waisted neck and gallered rim, all supported on a splayed galleried foot, the waisted neck flanked by a pair of phoenix handles, each rendered as the mythical bird with outstretched wings and suspending a loose ring, each of the main sides of the facetted body decorated with a large shou character flanked by a pair of kui dragons with angular scrollwork bodies below a musical chime, below upright archaistic plantain blades on the neck, the rim and foot further incised with key-fret motifs repeated at the rim of the gently domed cover of corresponding form, the sloping sides of the cover bordered with pendent petals, all surmounted by an openwork finial skilfully rendered in openwork as a pair of lingzhi blooms issuing from a floral bloom, the lustrous stone of an even white colour with faint icy and grey inclusions, wood stand.
Provenance: Sotheby's London, 1st July 1969, lot 58.
Note: Striking for its grand size and particularly translucent white tone, this vase is a statement of the wealth and glory of the Qianlong period. Boulders of such size were rarely used for making vessels due to the natural irregularities in the stone, thus were more often reserved for scenic miniature mountainscapes. The quality of the present boulder however has led to its formation into a vase with the craftsman skilfully producing a piece that centres on its broad proportions and luminous colour through the elongated octagonal form and delicate low-relief carving.
Jade carving reached its zenith during the Qianlong reign as a direct result of the Emperor’s personal passion for jade objects and access to unprecedented quantities of the raw material. Prior to the mid-Qianlong period, jade boulders only reached Beijing in small quantities, as the jade-rich territories of Khotan and Yarkand in present-day Xinjiang were occupied by the Dzungars, who blocked the supply of jade to mainland China. The Qianlong Emperor gained access to these areas in the 24th year of his reign (1760), following the Qing army’s defeat of the Dzungar Khanate. Beginning in the following year, tribute jades were sent to Beijing in spring and autumn and a formal system of biannual tribute soon developed. The stable supply of large quantities of raw jade led to the production of increasingly larger display objects, including vases such as the present.
The Qianlong Emperor advocated that jade carvers should take inspiration from the past, and many of the most impressive jade vessels made in this period combined elements readily associable with China’s revered Bronze Age with portents of good fortune. This vase is no exception: its shape represents an adaptation of the archaic bronze fanghu shape, and its motif features geometric C-scroll and kui dragons reminiscent of bronze wares from the Eastern Zhou dynasty (770-256 BC). The motif was cleverly combined with a shou (longevity) character suspended from a musical chime, and three lingzhi on the cover that add an auspicious message.
White jade vases of octagonal shape and of such large size are rare. A smaller octagonal vase, similarly carved with a shou character on the body, was sold in these rooms, 22nd May 1979, lot 274; and one lacking the cover and carved with two fish suspended from a bat and a stone chime, in the De An Tang collection, was included in the exhibition A Romance with Jade, Palace Museum, Beijing, 2004, cat. no. 57.
The motif on this piece suggests it was designed as a birthday gift; stone chimes (qing) are homophonous with the word to celebrate (qing), while the shou character and the lingzhi on the cover conveys the wish for a long and happy life.
Lot 130. An exceptional and rare white jade archaistic marriage bowl, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1795); 22.7 cm, 8 7/8 in. Estimate 3,000,000 — 4,000,000 HKD (381,990 - 509,320 USD). Lot sold 3,750,000 HKD (477,488 USD). Courtesy Sotheby's
superbly worked with rounded sides supported on five splayed ruyi feet, the lipped rim decorated with three flat archaistic mask handles rendered with angular scrollwork and accentuated with studs, each handle suspending a loose ring, the exterior of the vessel echoing the archaistic motifs and decorated with taotie masks and studs, the interior worked in low relief with lush Chinese evergreen leaves and berries, a lingzhi bloom depicted issuing from the stem, the lustrous white stone with faint inclusions, wood stand.
Provenance: Christie’s London, 7th February 1973, lot 175.
Note: Expertly finished to a smooth and highly tactile polish, this piece is fashioned from a luminous white jade boulder of remarkable evenness and texture. Its design, delicately carved to emphasise the milky white tone of the stone, celebrates tradition as well as modernity, thus displaying the eclectic style in vogue at the imperial court in the 18th century.
Among jade marriage bowls made in the Qianlong period, this piece is particularly special and rare on account of its exceptional carving and number of handles. Its form represents a free interpretation of archaic bronze basins, known as pan, which originated in the Shang dynasty (16th century-c.1046 BC). Pan were used for ritual ablutions before and after banquets, and this function may well have been preserved into the Qing dynasty. Its form, three animal-mask handles and the taotie masks on the exterior are an amalgamation of Bronze Age prototypes.
While in China vessels of this type are known as washers, in the West they are typically referred to as marriage bowls. The name derives from their auspicious designs that offered blessings and good wishes upon a marital union. This bowl is no exception, as the interior is carved with a luxuriant wannianqing (Chinese evergreen), rohdea japonica, with broad leaves and clusters of berries, and lingzhi. While the latter is a well-known symbol of longevity, the former became a popular subject matter only in the 18th century. Its name literally means ‘ten thousand years green’, and the character qing in its name is homophonous with the Qing dynasty. Its tight cluster of berries embodies the wish for fertility and male progeny, and when depicted together with the lingzhi, it expresses the wish wannian ruyi (May your wishes come true for one thousand years).
Basins of this type were typically fashioned with two handles, although a small number of vessels with four and six handles are known. Those with three handles are however very rare, and no other closely related example appears to have been published. A washer with two handles similarly fashioned in the form of animal masks, but carved on the exterior with a row of sinuous mythological creatures, from the collection of Mr and Mrs Barney Dagan, was included in the exhibition Chinese Jade from Southern California Collections, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, 1977, cat. no. 36.
Washers with two handles and carved with this auspicious motif of Chinese evergreen and lingzhi on the interior are known; a washer, but with a plain exterior, was sold in these rooms, 8th April 2010, lot 1869; another with two raised bow-strings, from the collection of the Manno Art Museum, Osaka, was sold at Christie’s London, 21st June 2001, lot 112; and a slightly larger spinach-green jade example was sold twice in our London rooms, 16th December 1969, lot 104, and 3rd June 1975, lot 24a.
Lot 122. A finely carved white jade 'bajixiang' alms bowl, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1795); 13.7 cm, 5 3/8 in. Estimate 500,000 — 700,000 HKD (63,665 - 89,131 USD). Lot sold 2,750,000 HKD (350,158 USD). Courtesy Sotheby's
the rounded sides rising from a concave base to a round incurved rim, intricately worked to the exterior in shallow relief, depicting the eight beribboned bajixiang above a lappet band, the well polished stone of an even white tone with occasional cloudy inclusions.
Note: This elegant vessel, modelled after a Buddhist alms bowl, is skilfully carved in low relief with bajixiang, or 'Eight Auspicious Emblems'. Both the form and design suggests that it was probably made for a religious altar or for use in ritual ceremonies. Jade alms bowls, such as the present lot, are recorded as being made for imperial Buddhist temples. In 1757, during a tour to the South, the Qianlong Emperor highly praised an alms bowl at the Kaiyuan Temple in Suzhou and ordered similar vessels to be made in jade for imperial altars.
Groups of eight symbols were originally used in ancient India in religious ceremonies and at occasions such as the enthronement of kings. The symbols evolved over time with different objects falling in and out of favour. The Eight Buddhist symbols represent the offerings presented to Shakyamuni by the gods upon his enlightenment, and entered China around the time of the Yuan dynasty. These symbols can be found thereafter on ceramics and other types of artworks. By the Qing dynasty, as seen on the present bowl, the combination and the order of the symbols has been standardised: the Wheel of Law, the Conch, the Standard of Victory, the Parasol, the Lotus, the Vase, the Twin Fish and the Endless Knot.
A slightly smaller white jade alms bowl similarly decorated with bajixiang, from the collection of Sir Framjee Dinshaw Petit, 3rd Baronet, and Lady Syla Dinshaw Petit, was sold at Christie's London, 8th November 2011, lot 194; and a slightly larger example from the collection of Millicent Rogers, but the base carved with waves, was sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 28th November 2012, lot 2127. Compare also a few celadon and spinach-green jade alms bowls from the Qing court collection, preserved in the Palace Museum, Beijing, and illustrated in Compendium of Collections in the Palace Museum. Jade, vol. 9: Qing Dynasty, Beijing, 2011, pls 279-283.
Lot 135. A superb white jade archaistic 'taotie' incense burner and cover, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1795); 17.5 cm, 6 7/8 in. Estimate 1,800,000 — 2,500,000 HKD (229,194 - 318,325 USD). Lot sold 2,250,000 HKD (286,493 USD). Courtesy Sotheby's
with a deep rounded body resting on three short cabriole legs issuing from leonine animal masks, flanked by a pair of pierced upright everted handles, the body worked in low relief with archaistic taotie masks rendered in angular scrollwork, the domed cover similarly decorated with taotie masks and surmounted by a flared finial, the stone of an even white colour with icy inclusions, wood stand.
Note: This piece embodies the brilliant creativity of Qing craftsmen in its combination of contemporary and archaic motifs. Continuing the Song tradition of reinterpreting large archaic ritual bronzes into relatively small jade vessels, this incense burner is carved with the archaic taotie motif, which has been further abstracted and rendered with eyelashes and a lingzhi-shaped nose.
In response to the ‘vulgarisation’ of Chinese jade carving in the 18th century, characterised by decorative objects with ornate high-relief designs, the Qianlong Emperor commissioned a large number of jades which were inspired by the forms and designs of antiquity. Jade carvers were encouraged to move away from the ‘new style’ by studying archaic bronze vessels in the Palace collection or in illustrated woodblock prints, and adapting them to the medium of jade. Inspired in both form and decoration by archaic bronze ding, this incense burner epitomises this trend.
While jade incense burners are often unique, their size and decoration depending entirely on the jade stone used to make them, the proportion of this piece, its form and motif are closely related to a white jade incense burner in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Zhongguo yuqi qianji [Complete collection of Chinese jade], vol. 6, Shijiazhuang, 1993, pl. 355. See also a jade incense burner of similar form and with strap handles, but decorated with raised bow strings on the body, also in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated ibid., pl. 347; and a spinach-green jade example, carved with taotie divided by raised flanges, and the cover with three rams, sold in our London rooms, 12th March 1982, lot 22.
Lot 101. A white jade ruyi sceptre, Qing dynasty, Qianlong–Jiaqing period (1736-1820); 41.8 cm, 16 3/8 in. Estimate 300,000 — 400,000 HKD (38,199 - 50,932 USD). Lot sold 2,125,000 HKD (270,576 USD). Courtesy Sotheby's
the ruyi-shaped terminal finely worked in low relief with a scene depicting two bats soaring above two lingzhi blooms and a narcissus flower, all rendered surrounded by lush foliage, further decorated with a beribboned musical chime (qing), the centre of the elongated curved shaft worked with a cluster of Chinese evergreen berries borne on a gnarled leafy stem, above further lingzhi blooms at the end of the shaft, the stone of a white colour.
Note: Compare a slightly larger sceptre carved with a related auspicious motif, but the shaft undecorated, sold in our New York rooms, 26th February 1982, lot 423; and another example sold in these rooms, 4th November 1997, lot 1337, and again at Christie’s New York, 24th March 2004, lot 54. See also a sceptre similarly carved on the shaft with wannianqing (Chinese evergreen) and lingzhi, from the collection of W.D. Ridgeway, sold in our London rooms, 29th November 1977, lot 269.
Lot 125. A large inlaid white jade figure of Guanyin, Qing dynasty, 18th-19th century; 27.1 cm, 10 5/8 in. Estimate 1,500,000 — 2,000,000 HKD (190,995 - 254,660 USD). Lot sold 1,875,000 HKD (238,744 USD). Courtesy Sotheby's
well worked from a translucent substantial boulder, the standing figure rendered with the left hand resting on the right wrist, portrayed dressed in a layered robe opening at the chest to reveal a tasselled necklace, the loose robe cascading down in voluminous folds suggesting the weight of the garment, the face with a benevolent and peaceful expression framed by a pair of pendulous earlobes and neatly incised hair beneath a cowl, the centre of the forehead inlaid with a pink urna, the stone of an even white colour with faint veins, the later added green jade stand worked in the form of a double-lotus pedestal with a central beaded border.
Note: This figure is notable for its large proportions and detailed carving, evident in the naturalistic modelling of the long robe and scarf, which gracefully falls in a fluid cascade over the arms. Depicted wearing a long veil and worldly accessories, including a bejewelled tiara and necklace, the figure’s eyes and head are gently lowered in a movement that captures the deity’s otherworldly nature. The graceful stance and elegant hand with long slender fingers endow the piece with a feminine beauty and an ethereal appeal.
Perhaps the most popular and well-known Buddhist deity in China, Avalokiteshvara, in China Guanyin, is the bodhisattva of Mercy and Compassion. Guanyin is described by the Historical Buddha in the Lotus Sutra (Miao Fa Lianhua Jing) as the deity that compassionately provides release and deliverance from suffering to those that recite her name. Here, Guanyin is depicted as a graceful feminine figure, an iconography that first became popular in the Ming period (1368-1644).
A similar figure of Guanyin, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated in Compendium of Collections in the Palace Museum. Jade, vol. 8: Qing Dynasty, Beijing, 2011, pl. 243; and a slightly larger one fashioned holding a bowl and a rosary, from the collections of J. Butterworth and T.Y. Chao, was sold twice in our London rooms in 1959 and 1969, and again in these rooms, 19th May 1987, lot 329.
For the prototype of this iconography, see three bronze figures of Guanyin signed Shisou and attributed to the Ming dynasty, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Classics of the Forbidden City. Guanyin in the Collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing, 2012, pls 43, 44 and 45.
Lot 104. A superb pair of white jade bowls, marks and period of Jiaqing (1796-1820); 12.4 cm, 4 7/8 in. Estimate 400,000 — 600,000 HKD (50,932 - 76,398USD). Lot sold 1,750,000 HKD (222,828 USD). Courtesy Sotheby's
each with deep rounded sides supported on a neatly cut footring, elegantly rising to a gently flared rim, the polished stone of an even white tone and well matched, with occasional icy-white striations, the base engraved with a four-character reign mark.
Note: Fashioned from a boulder of exceptional quality and perfectly finished with a lustrous sheen, these bowls exemplified the outstanding artistry achieved by the Qing dynasty jade craftsmen. The clean contours and distinctive shapes of these bowls follow closely that of their porcelain counterparts made popular during the 18th century.
It is rare to find Jiaqing reign-marked jade bowls of this quality, although a similar pair, illustrated in Robert Kleiner, Chinese Jades from the Collection of Alan and Simone Hartman, Hong Kong, 1996, pl. 90, was sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 28th November 2006, lot 1393. Compare also bowls of slightly larger sizes, including one sold in these rooms, 8th October 2014, lot 3739, and another sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 30th May 2012, lot 3953.
Lot 127. A rare and finely carved white jade 'bat' marriage bowl, Qing dynasty, 18th century; 27.1 cm, 10 5/8 in. Estimate 500,000 — 700,000 HKD (63,665 - 89,131 USD). Lot sold 1,500,000 HKD (190,995 USD). Courtesy Sotheby's
with rounded sides supported on four feet worked in the form of lotus blooms and rising to an everted cusped rim, the vessel flanked by a pair of handles, each rendered as a bat with outstretched wings resting on the rim and suspending a loose ring, the exterior decorated in low relief with a pair of bats rendered with archaistic scrollwork, below shou medallions enclosed within ruyi bands bordering the rim, the stone of an even white colour with faint icy inclusions, wood standr.
Note: Carved from a fine white boulder, the evenness of tone and translucency of which is highlighted in the broad plain surfaces, this marriage bowl is notable for its the intricacy of its unusual feet, carefully worked in the form of lotus blooms. The winged bats forming these handles are auspicious emblems of long life.
Marriage bowls were popular during the Qing period and were often carved with a variety of auspicious motifs which offered blessings and good wishes upon a marital union. A wide variety of marriage bowls was produced with a large number of traditional auspicious motifs employed in the decoration. Examples with surfaces left similarly plain or only minimally carved, and flanked by winged dragon handles, include one decorated with a spray of lingzhi, wannianqing (Chinese evergreen) and a cluster of berries, sold in these rooms, 8th April 2010, lot 1869. Compare also a marriage bowl similarly modelled with an everted rim, but the handles in the form of lingzhi, from the collection of Klaus D. von Oertzen, illustrated in Sydney Howard Hansford, Jade. Essence of Hills and Streams, London, 1969, pl. D31; and another, but the body undecorated and the handles in the form of bats and lotus, illustrated in Robert Kleiner, Chinese Jades from the Collection of Alan and Simone Hartman, Hong Kong, 1996, pl. 87.
Lot 114. A white jade dish, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1795); 24.8 cm, 9 3/4 in. Estimate 180,000 — 250,000 HKD (22,919 - 31,833 USD). Lot sold 937,500 HKD (119,372 USD). Courtesy Sotheby's
well worked with shallow rounded sides rising from a short foot to an everted rim, the stone of an attractive white colour with faint inclusions, wood stand.
Provenance: Possibly Sotheby's Hong Kong, 29th November 1979, lot 437.
Lot 133. An archaistic spinach-green jade box and cover, Mark and period of Qianlong (1736-1795); 15.9 cm, 6 1/4 in. Estimate 500,000 — 700,000 HKD (63,665 - 89,131 USD). Lot sold 937,500 HKD (119,372 USD). Courtesy Sotheby's
of square section, the cover with straight sides rising to a flat top with a key-fret incised canted border, enclosing a superbly worked and stylised quatrefoil accentuated with scrollwork, key-fret bands and ruyi motifs, each of the straight sides decorated with a taotie mask, the box with a constricted tall plain flange, the centre of the base gilt-incised with a four-character reign mark, the stone of a rich spinach-green colour with faint white veins and dark speckles, wood stand.
Note: Exquisitely carved with a geometric petal motif inspired by designs from the Qin (221-206 BC) and Han (206 BC-AD 220) dynasties, spinach-green jade boxes of this type and with Qianlong marks and of the period are unusual. Compare a box carved with a related motif but lacking the reign mark, sold at Christie’s London, 3rd November 1969, lot 158, and again in our Paris rooms, 22nd June 2017, lot 5; and a white jade example of circular form, but attributed to the Jiaqing period (1796-1820), sold in our London rooms, 27th June 1974, lot 49.
For the prototype of this design see a quatrefoil jade disc together with a jade tubular cup and a bronze stand, recovered together from the tomb of the King of Nanyue at Xianggangshan, Guangdong province, and illustrated in Peter Y.K. Lam, Jades from the Tomb of the King of Nanyue, Guangzhou, 1991, pls 127-129.
Lot 115. A finely carved white jade bowl, Mark and period of Qianlong (1736-1795); 14.7 cm, 5 3/4 in. Estimate 300,000 — 400,000 HKD (38,199 - 50,932 USD). Lot sold 875,000 HKD (111,414 USD). Courtesy Sotheby's
superbly worked with deep rounded sides rising to a gently everted rim, supported on a neatly cut footring, the lustrous stone of an even white colour with occasional faint inclusions.
Note: Worked with a seemingly plain yet superbly polished surface, and complemented with a crisp outline, the current bowl is an exceptional example of both the purity of the stones and level of workmanship under the reign of the Qianlong Emperor.
The form of the bowl, with the flared rounded sides supported on a short foot, is typical of the 18th century and particularly favoured in the Qianlong period, so much so that related examples were produced in varying sizes. See one of the same size but with a very slight difference in the long character of the mark, sold in our New York rooms, 20th March 2007, lot 618; and a smaller one also sold in our New York rooms, 19th March 2007, lot 11, from the Concordia House Collection.
Compare also an unmarked pair from the Collection Cottreau, sold at Christie’s New York, 17th September 2008, lot 330; and another bowl in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, illustrated in Michael Knight et. al., Later Chinese Jades. Ming Dynasty to Early Twentieth Century, San Francisco, 2007, pl. 113, where the authors note that the thin walls of the vessel highlighting the translucency of the material and the purity of its colour share characteristics with its porcelain prototypes (see p. 129).
Lot 128. A white jade archaistic vase and cover, Qing dynasty, Qianlong-Jiaqing period (1736-1820); 25.7 cm, 10 1/8 in. Estimate 500,000 — 700,000 HKD (63,665 - 89,131 USD). Lot sold 750,000 HKD (95,498 USD). Courtesy Sotheby's
the flattened ovoid body rising from a splayed foot to a waisted neck, flanked by a pair of dragon-head handles issuing hoops suspending loose rings, the front and back worked in low relief each depicting a shaped ribbon-tied cartouche, enclosing a pair of confronting kui dragons with their bodies stylised into square scrolls, all framed above and below with bands of taotie masks, the domed cover similarly worked with taotie masks, surmounted by a finial in the form of a mythical beast, the stone of an even white tone with occasional milky streaks.
Provenance: Sotheby's London, 1st July 1969, lot 74.
Sotheby's London, 9th May 1972, lot 30.
Note: A larger white jade vase, carved with a similar motif of confronting chilong, their bodies forming an archaistic geometric scroll, was sold at Christie's New York, 28th/29th June 1984, lot 114; and a spinach-green jade example was sold at Christie's Rome, 13th November 1973, lot 223. See also an ovoid vase carved with a related motif, included in the exhibition Jade as Sculpture, Minnesota Museum of Art, Saint Paul, 1975, cat. no. 76.
Lot 106. A celadon and russet jade 'magnolia' vase, Qing dynasty, 18th century; 13.9 cm, 5 1/2 in. Estimate 400,000 — 600,000 HKD (50,932 - 76,398 USD). Lot sold 500,000 HKD (63,665 USD). Courtesy Sotheby's
well worked as a tall magnolia bloom with layered petals forming the walls of the vessel, the petals incised with veins and rendered curled at the rim, the bloom further depicted borne and supported on a gnarled branch issuing two smaller budding magnolias flanking the vessel, the pale celadon stone with icy inclusions and attractive russet patches, wood stand.
Note: Magnolia, or yulan in Chinese, is an emblem of purity and is a pictorial pun to represent the Chinese word for jade, yu. Compare a related white jade vase in the form of a magnolia blossom in the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, illustrated in The T.T. Tsui Galleries of Chinese Art, Hong Kong, 1996, cat. no. 115; and another example sold in our New York rooms, 19th March 2007, lot 36.
A magnolia-form vase with a sprig of orchid can be seen in the Qing dynasty painting Good News of Harvest from the Qing court collection, now preserved in the National Palace Museum, Taipei; for detail of the painting, see The Enchanting Splendor of Vases and Planters: A Special Exhibition of Flower Vessels from the Ming and Qing Dynasties, Taipei, 2014, p. 233.
Lot 132. A superb white jade vase, Qing dynasty, 18th-19th century; 12.3 cm, 4 7/8 in. Estimate 400,000 — 600,000 HKD (50,932 - 76,398 USD). Lot sold 500,000 HKD (63,665 USD). Courtesy Sotheby's
the flattened ovoid body rising from a stepped foot to a short neck and lipped rim, flanked by a pair of bat handles, the body delicately worked on each face in shallow relief, depicting a pair of fish and a beribboned musical chime (qing) suspended from a wan symbol, similarly decorated to the sides with stylised cloud scrolls above cresting waves, the stone of an even white tone with occasional cloudy inclusions.
Note: Jade vases of this form and with bat handles modelled in the round are unusual; compare a larger octagonal vase carved on the body with a related motif of a bat, fish and a chime, from the De An Tang collection, included in the exhibition Romance of Jade, Palace Museum, Beijing, 2004, cat. no. 57.
Lot 112. A celadon and russet jade figure of a makara, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1795); 12 cm, 4 3/4 in. Estimate 80,000 — 100,000 HKD (10,186 - 12,733USD USD). Lot sold 375,000 HKD (47,749 USD). Courtesy Sotheby's
depicted as a horned mythical beast worked on each side with fins extending upwards to flank the dorsal fins along the upper edge of the makara, the underside of the pebble worked with a whirlpool of waves forming the base, the stone of a pale celadon colour with attractive russet skin, wood stand.
Provenance: Christie's London, 12th December 1979, lot 98.
Christie's London, 8th April 1981, lot 217.
Sotheby's Hong Kong, 25th November 1981, lot 411.
Lot 143. A large pale celadon and russet jade 'double gourd' group, Qing dynasty, 18th century; 21.9 cm, 8 5/8 in. Estimate 300,000 — 400,000 HKD (38,199 - 50,932 USD). Lot sold 375,000 HKD (47,749 USD). Courtesy Sotheby's
substantially worked as a double gourd borne on leafy vines issuing curling tendrils, furled leaves and attendant smaller double gourds, the gourds further rendered in low relief with nine bats, the stone of a very pale celadon colour with light russet patches.
Lot 111. A white jade seal paste box and cover, Qing dynasty, 18th-early 19th century; 6.8 cm, 2 5/8 in. Estimate 80,000 — 100,000 HKD (10,186 - 12,733 USD). Lot sold 275,000 HKD (35,016 USD). Courtesy Sotheby's
of circular form, supported on a short, neatly cut footring, the even white stone with a lustrous polish, accentuated with two milky-caramel patches on the domed cover.
Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art from the Collection of Sir Quo-Wei Lee II, Hong Kong, 08 October 2019