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Lot 77. A very large famille-verte yenyen vase, Qing dynasty, Kangxi period (1662-1722). Height 77 cm, 30¼ in.. Lot sold 100,800 GBP (Estimate : 40,000 - 60,000 GBP). © Sotheby's 2022

Provenance: Christie's New York, 22nd March 1995, lot 293. 

Christie's London, 16th November 1998, lot 232A.

Note: This vase is remarkable for the skillful craftsmanship in not only its monumental yet harmonious silhouette, but also the rendering of a lively scene in vivid shades of famille verte enamels. The elegant baluster form with its boldly flaring rim and the brilliant enamel palette of greens, yellows, blues and iron red with details picked out or outlined in black were both innovations of the Kangxi period. It was also during this period when the utilisation of three-dimensional surfaces to convey traditionally two-dimensional formats became immensely popular. The exquisitely painted narrative on the body, featuring a demon and a general with magical ability, suggests it could be illustrating a scene from the story Fengshen yanyi/Investiture of the Gods, a major vernacular work written in the 16th century, narrating the military campaigns of the last evil king of the Shang dynasty against the sagacious founders of the Zhou dynasty. The historical basis for the vividly described conflict is often augmented by an array of immortals, spirits and demons fighting alongside humans vying for supremacy, as seen on the present vase.

Compare a related example, but painted with a scene from Sanguo Yanyi/The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, sold the first time in our Hong Kong room, 23rd May 1978, lot 161, again in these rooms, 11th December 1990, lot 400, and recently in our New York rooms, 22nd September 2020, lot 127; and another, included in the Exhibition Chinesische Keramik, Kunstmuseum, Düsseldorf, 1965, pl. 164. 

Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art, London, 11 May 2022