A MAGNIFICENT LARGE AND VERY RARE TURQUOISE-GROUND YANGCAI IMPERIALLY INSCRIBED ‘FLOWERS OF THE FOUR SEASONS’ VASE
A MAGNIFICENT LARGE AND VERY RARE TURQUOISE-GROUND YANGCAI IMPERIALLY INSCRIBED ‘FLOWERS OF THE FOUR SEASONS’ VASE
A MAGNIFICENT LARGE AND VERY RARE TURQUOISE-GROUND YANGCAI IMPERIALLY INSCRIBED ‘FLOWERS OF THE FOUR SEASONS’ VASE
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THE WANG XING LOU COLLECTION OF IMPERIAL QING DYNASTY PORCELAIN
A MAGNIFICENT LARGE AND VERY RARE TURQUOISE-GROUND YANGCAI IMPERIALLY INSCRIBED ‘FLOWERS OF THE FOUR SEASONS’ VASE

QIANLONG SIX-CHARACTER SEAL MARK IN IRON RED AND OF THE PERIOD (1736-1795)

Details
A MAGNIFICENT LARGE AND VERY RARE TURQUOISE-GROUND YANGCAI IMPERIALLY INSCRIBED ‘FLOWERS OF THE FOUR SEASONS’ VASE
QIANLONG SIX-CHARACTER SEAL MARK IN IRON RED AND OF THE PERIOD (1736-1795)
The massive vase is decorated with eight cartouches on the body, four of which are inscribed with imperial poems followed by the seals Qianlong chenhan, weijing weiyi, bide runlang; the other four painted with flowers of the four seasons including peony, prunus, lotus and peach.
30 7⁄8 in. (78.3 cm.) high
Provenance
Sold at Christie’s London, 6 December 1993, lot 108
Literature
Robert Jacobsen, Ye Peilan and Julian Thompson: Imperial Perfection.The Palace Porcelain of Three Chinese Emperors, Kangxi - Yongzheng - Qianlong, Hong Kong, 2004, p. 146-149, no. 53
Exhibited
On loan to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1999 - 2020

Brought to you by

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

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Lot Essay

The four imperial poems inscribed on the present vase were composed by the Qianlong Emperor when he was still Prince Bao, before he ascended the throne, and are recorded in Yuzhi Leshantang quanji dingben [Complete works from the Delight in Goodness Hall, by His Majesty), vol. 24, pp. 15-16. These four poems, together with an additional one, were written in eulogy for a set of five flower paintings by Jiang Tingxi (1669-1732), a subject consistent with the decorations seen on the present vase.

According to palace archival records, on the 16th day of 10th month of Qianlong 17th year (1752), the superintendent at Jingdezhen, Tang Ying, was presented with four copies of Compiled Imperial Poems by the Qianlong Emperor, and was given the order ‘going forward, when applying poems on porcelains, select works from these copies instead of the Leshantang poems’. Since the poems inscribed on the current vase belong to Qianlong's Leshantang poems, this record suggests our vase was very likely made prior to 1752, during the early reign of Qianlong.

Jiang Tingxi was an esteemed scholar-official and painter active during the Kangxi and Yongzheng reigns. It appears that the Qianlong Emperor held high regard for his works, as there have been several imperial porcelains inscribed with the same poems in praise of Jiang’s paintings. A large Qianlong famille rose vase (74.5 cm.), similarly decorated on four sides with four different flowers, and inscribed on the other four other sides with the same poems, is in the Palace Museum Collection (fig. 1), illustrated on the museum’s website https://www.dpm.org.cn/collection/ceramic/227725.html. Another smaller lantern-shaped vase (40 cm.), also inscribed with the same poems and decorated with flowers of the four seasons, was formerly from Yamanaka and later sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 5 April 2017, lot 3626. Compare also to a similarly inscribed and decorated doucai and famille rose vase in the Palace Museum, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Porcelains with Cloisonné Enamel Decoration and Famille Rose Decoration, , Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 97.

Paintings by Jiang Tingxi have been well preserved by the Qing court, and it appears his paintings did provide inspiration to the ceramic artist who painted the current vase. For example, the multi-petalled peony bloom on the vase is strikingly similar to a peony painting by Jiang (fig. 2), now preserved in the National Palace Museum, Taipei (accession number: guhua00322500001). In fact, as early as the Kangxi period, ceramic artists started to appropriate Jiang’s paintings on imperial porcelains made for the Emperor. A Kangxi falangcai bowl, formerly in the Robert Chang Collection, painted with ‘double-headed’ lotus stems, is inspired by a painting by Jiang executed in 1722 known as Lotus of a Thousand Petals. The bowl was later sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 27 November 2019, lot 2988. This bowl, as well as the current vase, illustrate the special attachment the Qing emperors had for the artistic works by Jiang Tingxi, and the considerable role Jiang played in works made for the imperial court.

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