A FINE MAGNIFICENT AND EXCEEDINGLY RARE BLUE AND WHITE ‘FLOWERS OF THE FOUR SEASONS’ MOONFLASK
A FINE MAGNIFICENT AND EXCEEDINGLY RARE BLUE AND WHITE ‘FLOWERS OF THE FOUR SEASONS’ MOONFLASK
A FINE MAGNIFICENT AND EXCEEDINGLY RARE BLUE AND WHITE ‘FLOWERS OF THE FOUR SEASONS’ MOONFLASK
A FINE MAGNIFICENT AND EXCEEDINGLY RARE BLUE AND WHITE ‘FLOWERS OF THE FOUR SEASONS’ MOONFLASK
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PROPERTY FROM THE TIANMINLOU COLLECTION
A FINE MAGNIFICENT AND EXCEEDINGLY RARE BLUE AND WHITE ‘FLOWERS OF THE FOUR SEASONS’ MOONFLASK

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

Details
A FINE MAGNIFICENT AND EXCEEDINGLY RARE BLUE AND WHITE ‘FLOWERS OF THE FOUR SEASONS’ MOONFLASK
YONGZHENG SIX-CHARACTER SEAL MARK IN UNDERGLAZE BLUE AND OF THE PERIOD (1723-1735)
16 ¼ in. (41.5 cm.) high
Provenance
Collection of the late Dr. Chang His-hai
Sold at Sotheby’s New York, 23-24 May 1974, lot 426
Sold at Sotheby’s Parke Bernet (Hong Kong), 16 May 1977, lot 93
Acquired from Lally & Co., New York, 19 May 1987
Literature
- Chinese Porcelain in the S.C. Ko Tianminlou Collection, Hong Kong, 1987, no. 54
- Liu Liang-yu, A Survey of Chinese Ceramics, vol. 5: Ch'ing Official and Popular Wares, Taipei, 1991, p. 85
- Blue and White Porcelain from the Tianminlou Collection, Taipei, 1992, p.184-185, no. 75
- Sotheby’s Hong Kong –Twenty Years, Hong Kong, 1993, p. 154, no. 178
- Blue and White Porcelain from the Collection of Tianminlou Foundation, Shanghai, 1996, p. 200-201, no. 83
Exhibited
- Hong Kong Museum of Art, Chinese Porcelain in the S.C. Ko Tianminlou Collection, Hong Kong, 1987, no. 54
- Chang Foundation, Blue and White Porcelain from the Tianminlou Collection, Taipei, 1992, no.75
- Shanghai Museum, Blue and White Porcelain from the Collection of Tianminlou Foundation, Shanghai, 1996, p. 200-201, no. 83

Brought to you by

Sherese Tong (唐晞殷)
Sherese Tong (唐晞殷) AVP, Senior Specialist

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Lot Essay

Moonflasks, known for their shape in reminiscence of a full moon, are particularly challenging to fire due to its particular shape in which an exceptionally wide body sits on a very narrow foot. Large-sized moonflasks exceeding 40 cm. like the current example are even more difficult to reach perfection. This explains why moonflasks have always been a form highly desired by connoisseurs. The current flask, superbly potted in elegant proportions and of powerful construction, is an exceptionally rare and fine piece.

The shape and decoration of the current lot are largely based on early 15th century prototypes, except the latter lacks the handles on the shoulder. A Yongle blue and white moonflask of very similar shape and decorated with a lotus scroll in the National Palace Museum Collection, for example, is unmistakably a source of inspiration for the current flask, illustrated in Pleasingly Pure and Lustrous: Porcelains from the Yongle Reign (1403-1424) of the Ming Dynasty, Taipei, 2017, p. 112 (fig. 1). Notably the painter of the current flask dabbled and added darker spots to the decoration to simulate the mottled ‘heaping and piling’ effect of 15th century wares.

Due to the difficulty and tremendous cost of firing such large-sized moonflasks, extremely few related examples are known. One Yongzheng-marked moonflask of almost identical shape, size and design is in the Palace Museum Collection, but the mouth of this example is decorated with lotus scrolls, differing from the wave band on the current vase. It is illustrated in The Palace Museum’s Collection of Blue and White Porcelains from Yongzheng Period of Qing Dynasty, Beijing, 2017, pl. 125 (fig. 2).

It is very rare to find Yongzheng marked porcelains of this bold and impressive large size, as the majority are known to be of smaller proportion and delicately potted. Moonflasks dating to the Yongzheng reign more commonly seen, decorated with more simplified handles, such as the example measuring 28.4 cm. high in the Palace Museum Collection, is illustrated in Gugong Bowuyuan cang Qingdai yuyao ciqi [Porcelains from the Qing dynasty imperial kilns in the Palace Museum collection], vol. 1, pt. II, Beijing, 2005, pl. 41 (fig. 3); and another measuring 37 cm. high, first sold at Christie’s London on 6 October 1980, lot 229 (fig. 4), and later again at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 8 October 2013, lot 3022, for HK$11,440,000.

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