A FINE MAGNIFICENT AND LARGE BLUE AND WHITE ‘SANDUO’ HEXAGONAL VASE
A FINE MAGNIFICENT AND LARGE BLUE AND WHITE ‘SANDUO’ HEXAGONAL VASE
A FINE MAGNIFICENT AND LARGE BLUE AND WHITE ‘SANDUO’ HEXAGONAL VASE
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A FINE MAGNIFICENT AND LARGE BLUE AND WHITE ‘SANDUO’ HEXAGONAL VASE
11 More
PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT AMERICAN COLLECTION
A FINE MAGNIFICENT AND LARGE BLUE AND WHITE ‘SANDUO’ HEXAGONAL VASE

QIANLONG SIX-CHARACTER SEAL MARK IN UNDERGLAZE BLUE AND OF THE PERIOD (1736-1795)

Details
A FINE MAGNIFICENT AND LARGE BLUE AND WHITE ‘SANDUO’ HEXAGONAL VASE
QIANLONG SIX-CHARACTER SEAL MARK IN UNDERGLAZE BLUE AND OF THE PERIOD (1736-1795)
The vase is painted on the facetted sides of the body in delicate shades of blue with sprays of pomegranate, peach and persimmon alternating with branches of peony, chrysanthemum and lotus, all emerging from lingzhi fungi. The trumpet neck of conforming shape is further painted with six detached composite floral sprays, all bordered by bands of keyfret and trefoil.
26 in. (66 cm.) high, cloth box
Provenance
Sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 30 April 1991, lot 73
A Hong Kong private collection
A London private collection
Sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 5 October 2011, lot 1920
Literature
Sotheby's Hong Kong - Twenty Years 1973-1993, Hong Kong, 1993, p. 148, no. 166
 

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Marco Almeida (安偉達)
Marco Almeida (安偉達) SVP, Senior International Specialist, Head of Department

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Lot Essay

Magnificence and Delicacy A Large Hexagonal Qianlong Vase
Rosemary Scott
Independent scholar
Visiting ceramics research fellow, Palace Museum, Beijing

This imposing vase combines monumental size with very delicately rendered decoration in vibrant underglaze cobalt blue. This decoration employs a style in which flowering and fruiting sprays, reminiscent of those on fine Ming dynasty blue and white porcelains of the 15th century, accompanied by lingzhi fungus, are complemented by scrolling motifs which owe their inspiration to western designs. The melding of these two decorative traditions is particularly successful on this large hexagonal vase. It is probable that the current vase dates to the early part of the Qianlong reign, since a rare blue and white vase of the same large size, shape and design, dating to the Yongzheng reign (1723-35) is housed in the Musée national des arts asiatiques- Guimet, Paris. This Yongzheng vase has been published by Xavier Besse in La Chine des porcelaines, Paris, 2004, p. 119, no. 42, and in The Worlds Great Collections, Oriental Ceramics, Vol. 7, Musée Guimet, Paris, Kodansha International, Tokyo, 1981, no. 164 (fig. 1). Formerly in the collection of Ernest Grandidier (1833-1912), it was donated to the Louvre in 1894, and is now in the Guimet. The extreme closeness in the appearance of the current Qianlong vase to the Guimet Yongzheng example suggests that they were made within a few years of each other.

Western-inspired, symmetrical, graded, scrolling elements – often with small knobs along their exterior outlines - can be seen on a limited number of exceptional blue and white vessels from both the Yongzheng and early Qianlong reigns. Similar elements can be seen on two Yongzheng pouring vessels in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing (see Gugong Bowuyuan cang, Qingdai yuyao ciqi, juan 1, vol. 2, Beijing, 2005, pp. 108-111, nos. 43 and 44)(no. 43, fig. 2). These pouring vessels lack the large scale of the current vase, and are round, rather than faceted, so the decorative elements are smaller and used differently, but the shared source of inspiration is clear. Interestingly, a large Yongzheng hu-shaped blue and white vase, also in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing (see Blue and White Porcelain with Underglaze Red (III), The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Hong Kong, 2000, p. 114, no. 100) has similar decorative elements dominating the band which encircles the shoulder of the vessel, as do two large blue and white Yongzheng vases in the collection of the Nanjing Museum (see Qing Imperial Porcelain of the Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong Reigns, Nanjing, 1995, nos. 43 and 44). Similar Western-inspired decorative elements can also be seen on a large Qianlong blue and white garlic-mouth vase in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing (illustrated Blue and White Porcelain with Underglaze Red (III), The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, op. cit., p. 135, no. 121), while similar Ming-inspired flowering and fruiting sprays combined with lingzhi fungus can be seen on a Qianlong meiping vase in the same collection (illustrated ibid., p. 131, no. 117). It is noteworthy that on the current hexagonal vase the so-called ‘heaping and piling’ of the cobalt blue, associated with early Ming dynasty porcelains, has been imitated with special subtlety and delicacy – unlike the rather mannered ‘spotting’ which can be seen on the majority of 18th century blue and white decorated in Ming style.

The cobalt blue used to decorate the current vase is of very high quality and its jewel-like colour creates an effective contrast with the purity of the finely-textured white porcelain. This has been used to good advantage by the decorator, who has left a generous amount of white space around the highly detailed decorative motifs, ensuring them even greater visual prominence. The careful shaping
and placement of the individual decorative elements allows them to complement the form of the vase – especially the elements placed on the corners of the facets. The hexagonal shape, which extends to both the mouth rim and the foot rim of the vase, would have provided a challenge for the potter. Any faceted form runs the risk of splitting along the sharp vertical junctions during firing, and with a vase of this large size that risk is increased. The potters would have had to ensure that the all the sides were of absolutely even thickness and outline if they were to avoid splitting and warping in the kiln. It was a mark of the skill of the potters at the imperial kilns that faceted forms became more numerous in the 18th century, amongst both blue and white and monochrome porcelains.

Impressive vases of this type would have been intended to adorn Imperial palaces and a pair of such vessels was displayed in the Forbidden City, Beijing, in the Palace of Gathering Excellence (Chuxiugong, shown in episode 68 of the CCTV television series«??100», 2012). The Palace of Gathering Excellence was originally built in the Ming dynasty and was in the north-eastern section of the Six Western Palaces, where the empress and imperial concubines lived. The palace was originally called the Palace of Longevity (Shouchanggong), but the name was changed in the Jiajing reign (1522-66). A similar vase from the collection of the Nanjing Museum is published in The Official Kiln Porcelain of the Chinese Qing Dynasty, Shanghai, 2003, pl. 212, and a vase of this type was also included by the respected Chinese scholar Geng Baochang in his major publication Ming Qing ciqi jianding, Hong Kong, 1993, p. 274, pl. 469.

A further example of this type of vase is in the collection of the Matsuoka Museum of Art (illustrated in Selected Masterpieces of the Matsuoka Museum of Art, Tokyo, 1975, pl. 102). A small number of such vases have been sold at auction, including an example very similar to the current vase in shape, size and design, which is now in the collection of Alan Chuang, having been sold by Christie’s Hong Kong 27 April, 1998, lot 724 (illustrated in The Alan Chuang Collection of Chinese Porcelain, Hong Kong. 2009, pp. 118-9, no. 36)(fig. 3).

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