A RARE AND FINE GE-STYLE VASE
A RARE AND FINE GE-STYLE VASE

YONGZHENG SEAL MARK IN UNDERGLAZE BLUE AND OF THE PERIOD (1723-1735)

Details
A RARE AND FINE GE-STYLE VASE
YONGZHENG SEAL MARK IN UNDERGLAZE BLUE AND OF THE PERIOD (1723-1735)
The body with cylindrical center between an angled lower body and shoulder both encircled by subtle horizontal ribs, raised on a splayed foot and surmounted by a tall neck tapering slightly towards the cup-shaped mouth, covered overall with a pale grey glaze suffused with a dark grey crackle in imitation of Song Ge wares, with a dark brown wash on the foot rim
11 in. (28 cm.) high, box, stand
Provenance
J. M. Hu Family Collection; Sotheby's, New York, 4 June 1985, lot 64.
S. Marchant & Son, London.

Lot Essay

No other vase of this rare combination of shape and glaze appears to be published. However, the shape can be seen in a line drawing illustrated by Lim Peck-Siu, chief ed., Selected Specimens of Chinese Porcelain, Taipei, 1959, p. 44, where it is described as pagoda (stupa) shape, and shown with line drawings of other vase shapes.

This rare Yongzheng vase with a crackled glaze made in imitation of Song dynasty Ge ware reflects the early Qing fascination with the classic wares of the past. And a very possible inspiration for the unusual shape of this vase, as well as for its glaze, may have been Song dynasty Guan or Ge bottles with compressed body and canted shoulder below a tall neck tapering to an everted mouth, such as the Guan example illustrated in the catalogue for the O.C.S. exhibition, The Arts of the Sung Dynasty, London, 16 June - 23 July 1960, pl. 62, no. 159, and another, pl. 62, no. 168. Unlike the present vase, both of these are octagonal, and the first has two ribs around the neck, but the overall shape is quite similar.

The three great Qing emperors, Kangxi (1662-1722), Yongzheng (1723-35) and Qianlong (1736-95), were all enthusiastic collectors of antiques, and required that certain of the ceramics made for their courts were made in ancient style. The most esteemed early ceramics were the 'Five Great Wares of the Song Dynasty' - Ding, Jun, Ru, Guan and Ge. These ceramic wares had also been much admired prior to the Qing dynasty, and vessels imitating the crackled Ge or Guan ware glazes have been found among the imperial porcelains of the Xuande (1426-35) and Chenghua (1465-87) reigns of the Ming dynasty. A Xuande dish with Ge-type glaze preserved in the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei is illustrated in Catalogue of the Special Exhibition of Selected Hsuan-te Imperial Porcelains of the Ming Dynasty, Taipei, 1998, pp. 196-7, no. 71. Several fifteenth century porcelains with Ge-type glazes in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing are illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum - 37 - Monochrome Porcelain, Hong Kong, 1999, pp. 240-44, nos. 218-22. The National Palace Museum also has Chenghua stem cups with Ge-type glazes illustrated in the Catalogue of the Special Exhibition of Ch'eng-hua Porcelain Ware, Taipei, 2003, p. 115, nos. 100 and 101. A number of porcelains with crackled glazes have also been found in the late Chenghua stratum at the Imperial kilns at Jingdezhen. See A Legacy of Chenghua - Imperial Porcelain of the Chenghua Reign Excavated from Zhushan, Jingdezhen, Tsui Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1993, pp. 160-77, nos. C36, C38, C42, and C44.

The subtle beauty of Ge-type glazes seems to have greatly appealed to the Yongzheng emperor and several fine examples are to be seen in the imperial collections. Two reign-marked vessels from the Beijing Palace Museum are illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum - 37 - Monochrome Porcelain, op. cit., pp. 248-9, nos. 226-7, while two from the National Palace Museum, Taipei are illustrated in Catalogue of A Special Exhibition of Ch'ing-Dynasty Monochrome Porcelains in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1981, pp. 137-9, nos. 82 and 83. It is interesting to note that the unusual form of the current vase with its cylindrical body and sharp junctions at shoulder and lower section may suggest a metalwork prototype. Both the illustrated Yongzheng Ge-type vessels from the National Palace Museum, mentioned above, have metal prototypes, as does the second of the illustrated Beijing Palace Museum pieces. It would appear that the Yongzheng Emperor deemed Ge-type glazes particularly appropriate for use on porcelains with metalwork forms.
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