The beauty of Song dynasty glazes was greatly admired by the emperors of the high Qing, and the potters at the imperial Jingdezhen kilns were charged with the task of reproducing these glazes on porcelain. The glaze seen on the present lot is an interpretation of Ru ware, perhaps the most highly sought after and treasured ware of the Song dynasty.
Compare a Yongzheng mark and period hu vase of the same shape and size, although covered in a Guan-type glaze, in the Wang Xing Lou Collection, illustrated in Imperial Perfection: The Palace Porcelain of Three Chinese Emperors, Hong Kong, 2004, pp. 210-1, no. 80. Another slightly smaller (27.3 cm.) hu of the same shape, covered in a deep blue glaze, bearing a Yongzheng six-character mark within double circles, is in the collection of the Beijing Palace Museum, illustrated in Qingdai Yuyao Ciqi, vol. I, Beijing, 2005, pp. 272-3, no. 122. For another example of this form, see The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum - 37 - Monochrome Porcelain, Hong Kong, 1999, pp. 280-1, no. 256, where its glaze is described in the catalogue as fang gu yu (copying ancient jade). A fourth smaller (26.2 cm.) hu covered in a Jun-type glaze, dated to the 18th century, is illustrated by J. Ayers, The Baur Collection, Geneva, vol. III, 1972, no. A353. The Baur vessel bears a spurious Xuanhe mark incised into the base under the glaze. This is undoubtedly a reference to the collection of antiquities belonging to the Northern Song emperor Huizong, who was known for his love of art and during whose reign exceptional ceramics were made. Huizong commissioned an illustrated catalogue of his bronzes and jades, entitled Xuanhe bo gu tu lu. This catalogue included illustrations of ancient bronze forms, which also provided inspiration to the ceramicists of later periods. The fact that this form was made with several archaistic glazes during the Yongzheng reign suggests that this shape was felt to be particularly appropriate for such glazes, possibly because it combined an affinity with ancient bronze wares with a simple and elegant form that would complement these beautiful glazes.