A Rare And Superbly Painted Blue And White ‘Mandarin Duck’ Vase, yuhuchunping, Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368)

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Lot 2982. A Rare And Superbly Painted Blue And White ‘Mandarin Duck’ Vase, yuhuchunping, Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368); 9 5/8 in. (24.5 cm.) high, Japanese wood boxEstimate HKD 1,500,000 - HKD 2,500,000Price realised HKD 1,250,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2021

The vase is freely painted in cobalt blue around the body with pairs of mandarin ducks swimming amid lotus flowers and aquatic plants, between narrow bands of classic scroll and larger lotus panels. The slender trumpet neck is decorated with upright plantain leaves above a band of key-frets, the flared mouth and foot with further decorative borders.

Provenance: Eskenazi, London, no. 9627
A Southeast Asian collection
Sold at Christie’s London, 15 November 2000, lot 14
The Sam and Myrna Myers Collection, Paris, acquired in 2000
A Japanese private collection, acquired 2018.

LiteratureJean-Paul Desroches, Two Americans in Paris: A Quest for Asian Art, Paris, 2016, no. 283

ExhibitedMontreal Museum of Archeology and History, Montreal, 2016
Kimbell Art Museum, Texas, 2017.

NoteBlue and white pear-shaped vases from the Yuan dynasty are very rare with few surviving examples. A very similar Yuan vase depicting a lotus pond and with almost identical decorative bands, but without mandarin ducks, is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection (accession no. 1984.297) (fig. 1). 

Flask with Lotus Pond, Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), mid-14th century

Flask with Lotus Pond, Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), mid-14th century

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fig. 1. Flask with Lotus Pond, Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), mid-14th century. Porcelain painted with cobalt blue under transparent glaze (Jingdezhen ware),  H. 11 1/4 in. (28.6 cm); Diam. 3 1/4 in. (8.3 cm), Gift of Irene and Earl Morse, 1984, 1984.297© 2000–2021 The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

Another Yuan vase of very similar form, but decorated with melons on vines, from Mayuyama & Co., was sold at Christie’s New York, 14 September 2017, lot 1179. Compare also to a Yuan yuhuchunping decorated with phoenix, sold at Sotheby’s London, 13 May 2015, lot 283; and a Yuan blue-glazed yuhuchunping with traces of a gilt dragon motif, sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 28 November 2018, lot 2903.

The pattern of mandarin ducks swimming amid a lotus pond can also be seen on a Yuan blue and white charger, sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 30 May 2012, lot 4054 (fig. 2).

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fig. 2. A Rare Yuan Blue And White 'Lotus Pond' Charger, Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368); 14 1/2 in. (37 cm.) diam., Japanese wood box. Estimate HK$1,800,000 - HK$2,200,000 (US$233,339 - US$285,192)Price realised:  HK$29,220,000 (US$3,763,594) at Christie’s Hong Kong, 30 May 2012, lot 4054. © Christie's Image Ltd 2012

Cf. my post: A Rare Yuan Blue And White 'Lotus Pond' Charger, Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368)

Christie's. Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, Hong Kong, 28 may 2021