A blue and white 'figural' vase, Yuhuchunping, Yuan dynasty

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Lot 119. A blue and white 'figural' vase, Yuhuchunping, Yuan dynasty (1279-1368). Height 28 cm, 11 in. Lot sold: 504,000 GBP (Estimate: 15,000 - 20,000 GBP)© 2022 Sotheby's.

the pear-shaped body rising from a spreading foot to a slender waisted neck flaring at the rim, painted with a continuous scene of two figures standing in a broad central landscape frieze between cash coin and diaper bands, all between broad lappet bands around the shoulder and foot, the neck encircled by upright plantain leaves above a keyfret band, the interior rim with a classic scroll.

ProvenanceJ.J. Lally & Co., New York, 3rd December 2001.

Literature:Regina Krahl, Early Chinese Blue-and-White Porcelain. The Mingzhitang Collection of Sir Joseph Hotung, Hong Kong, 2022, pl. 10.

NoteIt is unusual to find a Yuan dynasty (1279-1368) vase of this shape painted with a figural scene in cobalt blue. With its long slender neck and gentle curves outlining its elegant silhouette, the form of this vessel in Chinese is called yuhuchun (‘spring in a jade bottle’). Depicted in the main scene are a scholar and an attendant among highly auspicious symbols, such as a tray of peaches carried by the attendant and a lingzhi, both of which convey wishes for longevity.

In her latest publication Early Chinese Blue-and-White Porcelain. The Mingzhitang Collection of Sir Joseph Hotung, Hong Kong, 2022, p. 86, Regina Krahl suggests that although bottles of this type seem to be unique, several of them, including the present piece, appear to depict a general auspicious message of Daoist relevance. See, for example, two slightly taller vases both rendered with a Daoist figure and a deer with lingzhi in its month, but with horizontal bands decorated in a slightly different way: one preserved in the Guangdong Museum, Guangzhou, illustrated in Guangdong Sheng Bowuguan zang taoci xuan / Selection of Ceramics from the Guangdong Provincial Museum, Beijing, 1992, pl. 105; the other preserved in the Idemitsu Museum of Arts, Tokyo, illustrated in Yoshiaki Yabe, Toji Taikei 41: Gen no Shimitsu, Tokyo, 1974, pls 11 and 64. A smaller yuhuchun vase also painted with two figures in a landscape with lingzhi and willow trees, in the Tianminlou Collection, is illustrated in Zhongguo taoci quanji / Complete Series on Chinese Ceramics, vol. 11: Yuan 2, Shanghai, 2000, pl. 182. Another smaller vase with a figural scene, with lingzhi growing in a rocky landscape among a willow tree and waterfall, was sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 19th March 1991, lot 517.

Sotheby'sHOTUNG | 何東 The Personal Collection of the late Sir Joseph Hotung | Part II: Evening. London, 8 December 2022