Lot 875. A carved Qingbai tixi-style vase, meiping, Southern Song dynasty, 13th century; 10 5/8 in. (27 cm.) high, brocade box. Price realised USD 441,000 (Estimate USD 60,000 – USD 80,000). © Christie's Images Ltd 2023
The tall, high-shouldered vase is carved overall with scrolling tendrils between double line borders, all under a crackled glaze of pale aquamarine tone that continues over the mouth and ends just above the foot.
Provenance: J. J. Lally & Co., New York, no. 4630.
Note: The shape and decoration on qingbai wares were often fashioned after contemporaneous silver wares, and the current meiping is no exception. A silver meiping decorated with ruyi-shaped scrolls, excavated in a Southern Song hoard in Sichuan, for example, was possibly an inspiration for the design of the current vase. The silver vase is illustrated in S. Kwan, 'Tixi wenyang fenqi chuyi', Proceedings of Conference on Ancient Chinese Lacquer, Hong Kong, 2012, p. 65, fig. 11.
Qingbai vases of similar shape and design are in the collections of important museums and institutions around the world. An almost identical example was in the Qing Court Collection, now in the Beijing Palace Museum, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum - 33 - Porcelain of the Song Dynasty (II), Hong Kong, 1996, pl. 167. Two other examples of varying sizes, one with a height of 26 cm. in the Sichuan Chongqing Museum, the other with a height of 35.1 cm. in the Shaanxi Provincial Museum, are illustrated in Zhongguo taoci quanji: Song Yuan qingbai ci, vol. 16, Kyoto, 1984, pls. 20 and 101. Another example, registered as an Important Art Object in Japan, is illustrated in Mayuyama Seventy Years, vol. 1, Tokyo, 1976, pl. 450. An example in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum, New York, is illustrated in Oriental Ceramics, The World's Great Collections, vol. 11, New York, Tokyo, 1982, pl. 59. A slightly larger example (28.6 cm. high) in the Idemitsu Collection is illustrated in Chinese Ceramics in the Idemitsu Collection, Tokyo, 1987, pl. 423, and another in the Meiyintang Collection is illustrated by R. Krahl in Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, vol. 1, London, p. 325, no. 606. Two further qingbai meipings of this type from the Yangde Tang Collection, were sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 30 November 2016, lots 3140 and 3141.
Two very similar Song dynasty vases, with the cylindrical covers and the same combed scrolling decoration, were found in a Southern Song hoard excavated in 1991 at Jinyucun, Suizhu, Sichuan province. See Newly Discovered Southern Song Ceramics - A Thirteenth-Century "Time Capsule", Tokyo, 1998, p. 59, nos. 62 and 63.
The result of C-Link Research and Development Ltd. thermoluminescence test no. 8822YK03 is consistent with the dating of this lot.
Lot 876. A very rare brown-splashed Qingbai 'Sheng player’ ewer, Northern Song Dynasty (AD 960-1127); 7 3/4 in. (19.7 cm.) high, cloth box. Price realised USD 693,000 (Estimate USD 150,000 – USD 200,000). © Christie's Images Ltd 2023
The domed vessel is molded and carved as a female musician shown dressed in a long blouse over a pleated skirt with the slippers emerging from beneath the hem at front, and with the hair elaborately dressed with flowers and topped by a six-petaled headdress. The top of the head is left open to serve as the mouth of the vessel, and the figure holds a hollowed sheng that serves as the spout opposite the double-strap handle. The vessel is covered overall with a brown-splashed, greenish-tinged glaze and has five wide spur marks on the foot rim.
Provenance: J. J. Lally & Co., New York, no. 4621.
Note: A very similar figural ewer in the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art, formerly in the collection of Samuel T. Peters, was exhibited at the Los Angeles County Museum and published in the exhibition catalogue by H. Trubner in The Arts of the Tang Dynasty, Los Angeles, 1957, pp. 102-103, no. 271. The same ewer is illustrated by W. Watson, Tang and Liao Ceramics, London, 1984, p. 121, pl. 92.
Another figural ewer excavated in Anhui province in 1994 from a tomb dated to AD 1025 in Susong county, near Anqing, is illustrated by Zhang (ed.) in Complete Collection of Ceramic Art Unearthed in China, vol. 8, Anhui, Beijing, 2008, no. 98. This ewer is of similar size to that of the current ewer and also has details highlighted in iron brown. The form of this Susong ewer depicts a Daoist immortal playing a reed pipe, and the hair is tied up in a simple cloth. A qingbai figural ewer, without such an elaborate headdress, from the Collection of Robert H. Ellsworth was sold at Christie's New York, 20 March 2015, lot 837. (Fig. 1)
A rare Qingbai iron-brown-decorated figural ewer, China, Northern Song dynasty (AD 960-1127) 7 ¼ in. (18.5 cm.) high , from the Collection of Robert H. Ellsworth. Sold for $221,000 at Christie's New York, 20 March 2015, lot 837. © Christie's Image Ltd 2015
(Cf. my post: A rare Qingbai iron-brown-decorated figural ewer, China, Northern Song dynasty (AD 960-1127)
A similarly modeled porcelain figural ewer covered in a plain white glaze, dated to Northern Song and excavated in 1971 at Tengyun village, Huaining county, Anqing city, Anhui province, is illustrated by Zhang (ed.), ibid., p. 150, no. 150.
The result of Oxford Authentication Ltd. thermoluminescence test no. P110r22 is consistent with the dating of this lot.
Lot 878. A Qingbai censer and cover, Boshanlu, Song dynasty (960-1279); 4 5/8 in. (11.8 cm.) high, cloth box. Price realised USD 60,480 (Estimate USD 5,000 – USD 7,000). © Christie's Images Ltd 2023
The censer has a rounded bowl that is raised on a hexagonal pedestal foot molded with overlapping petals. The domed cover is molded in the form of a stylized mountain peak that rises to a star-shaped opening and is pierced at the sides with cloud-form apertures. Both are covered overall with a glossy translucent glaze of brilliant aquamarine-blue tone.
Provenance: J. J. Lally & Co., New York, no. 4873.
Note: A similar qingbai tripod boshanlu censer is in the collection of the Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka, and illustrated in Sodai no seihakuji (Qingbai Wares of Song Dynasty), Osaka, 1994, p. 16, no. 42. Another related qingbai tripod boshanlu censer in the collection of the Idemitsu Museum is illustrated in Toyo no shiroi yakimono: Junnaru sekai (White Ceramics of the East: the Genuine Pure World), Tokyo, 2012, p. 42, no. 54, described as Fujian type from the Southern Song dynasty.
Lot 880. A carved Qingbai vase, probably Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279); 7 in. (17.7 cm.) high, brocade box. Price realised USD 40,320 (Estimate USD 8,000 – USD 12,000). © Christie's Images Ltd 2023
The spherical body is carved with a leafy scroll bearing two large blossoms below the cylindrical neck with a double-line band and the flared mouth with a petal-shaped rim. The vase is covered overall with a crackled glaze of pale blue tone.
Provenance: J. J. Lally & Co., New York, no. 4873.
Note: A similarly decorated qingbai vase of this distinctive form is in the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm, and is illustrated by J. Wirgin in ‘Sung Ceramic Designs,’ B.M.F.E.A. Bulletin No. 42, Stockholm, 1970, pl. 18a. Another qingbai vase of very similar form with incised decoration of fish in rippling water around the body is illustrated in Song Ceramics from the Kwan Collection, Hong Kong, 1994, pp. 270-71, no. 117.
Christie's. J. J. Lally & Co., New York, 23 march 2023