26 novembre 2022

A blue and white handled vase, hu, Mark and period of Yongzheng

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Lot 3804. A blue and white handled vase, hu, Mark and period of Yongzheng (1723-1735); h. 33.5 cm. Lot sold: 2,268,000 HKD (Estimate: 2,500,000 - 3,000,000 HKD). © Sotheby's 2022

the baluster body rising from a gently splayed foot to a tall neck flanked by a pair of tubular handles, finely incised and decorated in green enamel against a yellow ground with nine scaly five-clawed dragons writhing amongst cloud scrolls, with cresting waves and a keyfret band below, the neck encircled with a ruyi band and another keyfret, the base inscribed with a six-character reign mark within a double circle.

Provenance: Collection of Dr Wou Kiuan (1910-97).
Wou Lien-Pai Museum, 1968-present, coll. no. Q8.33. 

NoteThe present vase illustrates the multitude of stylistic sources of early Qing dynasty potters. The overall shape and the stylised turtledove handles are, for example, loosely based on Zhou dynasty archaic bronze hu vessels with spiral-horned dragons; see a prototype in the British Museum, London, accession no. 1970,1104.1, published in Jessica Rawson, Chinese Bronzes: Art and Ritual, London, 1987, cat. no. 29. Turtledove, or jiu in Chinese, is a symbol of longevity, for the bird is believed to be immune from choking. On the other hand, the delicately painted decoration in cobalt blue with the simulated ‘heaped and piled’ effect is associated with early Ming dynasty porcelain wares. 

Vases of this type are rare, and only a handful of examples appear to have been published. A larger vase with a foliate scroll band at the mouth from the Qing Court collection and still in Beijing is illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Blue and White Porcelain with Underglaze Red, vol. 3, Shanghai, 2000, pl. 95. Two vases of the same design and proportion appeared at auction: one sold at Christie’s London, 10th December 1984, lot 967, and again in these rooms, 20th November 1985, lot 89; and another sold twice in these rooms, 14th November 1989, lot 75, and 29th October 1991, lot 133, and included in Sotheby’s Hong Kong – Twenty Years, Hong Kong, 1993, pl. 176.

This type of Yongzheng vases is also known to be covered in monochrome glazes. Compare a flambe-glazed example of this large size, sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 30th November 2011, lot 3299; a smaller celadon-glazed vase with archaistic relief decoration in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Kangxi Yongzheng Qianlong. Qing Porcelain from the Palace Museum Collection, Hong Kong, 1989, Yongzheng chapter, pl. 105, together with a guan-type example, also smaller in size, pl. 78; and a further guan-type vase from the collection of Sir Quo-Wei Lee, sold in these rooms, 2nd October 2018, lot 101.

Archaistic vases similar to the present example continued to be made during the Qianlong reign, yet in slightly different proportions. A larger blue and white hu vase from the Qing court collection and still in Beijing is published in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museumop.cit., pl. 136, and possibly its pair, a vase in the Nanjing Museum, is illustrated in The Official Kiln Porcelain of the Chinese Qing Dynasty, Shanghai, 2003, pl. 234. 

Sotheby's. A Journey Through China’s History The Dr Wou Kiuan Collection Part II, Hong Kong, 9 October 2022.

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