A RARE PALE GREYISH-WHITE JADE SLENDER PEAR-SHAPED VASE
A RARE PALE GREYISH-WHITE JADE SLENDER PEAR-SHAPED VASE
A RARE PALE GREYISH-WHITE JADE SLENDER PEAR-SHAPED VASE
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THE FLORENCE AND HERBERT IRVING COLLECTION
A RARE PALE GREYISH-WHITE JADE SLENDER PEAR-SHAPED VASE

CHINA, QING DYNASTY, QIANLONG INCISED SIX-CHARACTER FANGGU MARK AND OF THE PERIOD (1736-1795)

Details
A RARE PALE GREYISH-WHITE JADE SLENDER PEAR-SHAPED VASE
CHINA, QING DYNASTY, QIANLONG INCISED SIX-CHARACTER FANGGU MARK AND OF THE PERIOD (1736-1795)
The slender ovoid body tapering to a tall neck that flares slightly towards the mouth rim, with a pair of mask and loose-ring handles carved on the shoulders and two similar handles on each side of the lower body, the semi-translucent stone of pale greyish white tone with russet veining on one side of the lower body and some areas of pale brown and opaque white mottling, the base inscribed with a six-character Qianlong fanggu mark
7 ½ in. (19.1 cm.) high
Provenance
Spink & Son, Ltd., London, 1982.
The Irving Collection, no. 369.

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Lot Essay

As evidenced by the records of the Qing dynasty and the enormous size of the imperial collections, there was an intense interest in Chinese antiquities at the imperial court reflected in the commissioning of pieces in archaic styles during the eighteenth century. This certainly pertained to jades that were made in a broad range of archaic styles during the reign of the Qianlong emperor, who had a passion for jade and preferred those of ancient type, not only those that directly imitated jades of earlier date but also jades that alluded to the antique without directly copying. Many of the pieces he commissioned are inscribed fanggu (to imitate the ancient).

The present vase is of the second type. The shape appears to be based on fuller-bodied bronze hu of late Warring States date, such as the chain-handled hu from Hubei Jiangling, of late fourth-third century BC date, illustrated by Jenny So in Eastern Zhou Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, vol. III, Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, 1995, p. 287, fig. 51.3. Like the present jade vase, the bronze hu has a pair of mask and loose-ring handles flanking the shoulder and has mask and ring handles on the lower body, although there appear to be four rather than two.

The Qianlong six-character fanggu mark (Qianlong made in imitation of the original) on the Irving vase indicates that it was one of the special group of jade vessels which were inspired by ancient bronze forms and were inscribed with this mark. Larger jade vases of this type, most of hu shape, have been published. Two in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated by Yang Boda, ed., Chinese Jades Throughout the Ages - Connoisseurship of Chinese Jades, vol. 12, Qing Dynasty, Chinese Art Foundation, 1997, pls. 39 and 40, have the more typical shape of bronze hu of Han dynasty date. The first, pl. 39, of white jade, has plain raised bands encircling the shoulder and lower body and a pair of mask handles suspending loose rings flanking the neck. The second, pl. 40, is carved with raised borders enclosing a band of kui dragons on the neck and two bands of fish, birds and turtles encircling the shoulder and body. The arrangement of the pair of mask and loose-ring handles flanking the neck and the pair on the lower body is similar to that seen on the Irving vase. The mark on both of these vases is similar to that on the present vase. Another large hu-shaped vase, also carved with bands of birds, turtles and fish, and with similarly positioned handles, but with a four-character Qianlong fanggu mark, is illustrated by Roger Keverne, Jade, New York, 1991, p. 181, fig. 132. See, also, a jade archaistic hu-form vase with Qianlong six-character fanggu inscribed mark sold at Christies, New York, 24 March 2011, lot 1522.

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