16 octobre 2020

A rare blue and white hexagonal vase, seal mark and period of Qianlong (1736-1795)

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Lot 3606. A rare blue and white hexagonal vase, seal mark and period of Qianlong (1736-1795); 44.5 cm, 17 ½ inEstimate: 1,200,000 - 1,800,000 HKD. Lot sold 1,512,000HKD. Courtesy Sotheby's.

of hexagonal section, superbly painted in vibrant tones of cobalt blue enhanced by simulated ‘heaping and piling’, decorated around the sides with alternating fruiting and floral sprays issuing pomegranate, peach, peony, chrysanthemum, lychee and lotus growing amidst slender leafy branches, all within ruyi head borders, the waisted neck decorated with stylised foliate scrolls below further ruyi heads and a band of dots, the shoulder with raised bands decorated with keyfret and foliate sprays, the foot encircled by bands of scrollwork, floral sprays, and rolling waves, the base inscribed with a six-character seal mark.

Provenance: Christie's London, 13th December 1982, lot 574.
Sotheby's Hong Kong, 12th May 1983, lot 181.

NoteThe motif of this finely painted vase derives from early Ming blue and white porcelain. Fruiting and flowering branches first appeared on underglaze-blue porcelain during the Yongle reign, a time when the potters at the imperial kilns in Jingdezhen achieved enormous developments in the refinement of materials and expansion of the decorative repertoire. Blue and white vases of meiping form decorated with related fruiting and flowering branches are among the most characteristic products of the Yongle period; for examples, see a vase in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Blue and White Porcelain with Underglazed Red, vol. 1, Hong Kong, 2000, pl. 30. Even the mottled cobalt ‘heaping and piling’ effect of the 15th-century originals was painstakingly reproduced by the Qing craftsmen in a display of their proficiency over the pigment. Like many other blue and white wares of the early Ming period, this design was reinvented and transformed during the Yongzheng Emperor’s reign before becoming one of the favourites of the Qianlong Emperor. A new life has been breathed into the Qing versions through the hexagonal form and the inclusion of European-style elements such as the scrolls on the neck. The familiar traditional Chinese motifs coupled with the secondary European-style designs not only provide an attractive aesthetic but also firmly celebrate the imperial authority of Qing China.

The Yongzheng prototype, as seen on a vase from the Grandidier collection and now in the Musée Guimet, Paris, is decorated around the neck with stems of flowers divided by European-inspired scrollwork (Oriental Ceramics. The World’s Great Collections, vol. 7, Tokyo, 1981, pl. 164). A group of Qianlong examples closely follows the prototype closely, suggesting that they were produced early in the Qianlong period. However, with more generous proportions and stylised scrolls without floral sprays around the neck, the present vase is highly unusual.

For the slightly more common type of Qianlong hexagonal floral vases, see an example in the Nanjing Museum, illustrated in The Official Kiln Porcelain of the Chinese Qing Dynasty, Shanghai, 2003, pl. 212; one published in Selected Masterpieces of the Matsuoka Museum of Art, Tokyo, 1975, pl. 102; another, sold twice in these rooms, 30th April 1991, lot 73, and 5th October 2011, lot 1920, included in Sotheby’s Hong Kong – Twenty Years, Hong Kong, 1993, pl. 166; a further vase, sold in these rooms, 20th May 1981, lot 764 and illustrated in Geng Baochang, Ming Qing ciqi jianding [Appraisal of Ming and Qing porcelain], Hong Kong, 1993, p. 274, fig. 469.

Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art, 9 October 2020, Hong Kong

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