Lot 816.  A very rare Guan-type hu-form vase, Qianlong six-character seal mark in underglaze blue and of the period (1736-1795); 7 ¾ in. (19.6 cm.) highEstimate USD 100,000 - USD 150,000. © Christie's  Images Ltd 2020.

The high-shouldered ovoid body tapering to a flared foot, the shoulder applied with a pair of masks suspending fixed-ring handles, covered with a finely cracked, pale bluish-grey glaze, the foot rim covered with a brownish-black dressing.

Provenance: H. R. N. Norton (d. 1961-62) Collection, no. 38.
Sotheby & Co., London, 5 November 1963, lot 196.
Bluett & Sons, London, 11 February 1964.
The James and Marilynn Alsdorf Collection, Chicago.

NoteThe present vase, in both its shape and glaze, reflects the Qianlong Emperor’s fascination with antiques. The shape of this vase is in imitation of a Han dynasty (220 BC-AD 220) bronze wine vessel, hu, examples of which were undoubtedly available in the imperial collections in the 18th century. The crackled glaze recalls the glaze on the Guan wares made for the Southern Song (AD 1127-1279) court, further reinforcing the theme of archaism when used on this vase in the shape of an ancient bronze.
Compare the current vase to a Qianlong-marked Ru-type hu-form vase of the same shape, but of larger size (21 15/16 in.), in the Brooklyn Museum, no. 32.1244, and to another Qianlong period Ru-type vase of slightly larger size (13 3/8 in.) with animal masks on the shoulders, but lacking the rings.

Christie's. Sacred and Imperial: The James and Marilynn Alsdorf Collection Part I, New York, 24 September 2020