Previously sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 17 May 1977, lot 325; sold again in these Rooms, 20 March 1990, lot 974, and at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 31 October 2004, lot 10.
The unusual handles gracefully flanking the censer are of particular note. The closest comparison of this winged form is on a covered vase sold in these Rooms, Important Chinese Jades from the Personal Collection of Alan and Simone Hartman, 28 November 2006, lot 1402 (fig. 1, detail). Variations of the winged dragon form, but on a smaller scale, appear to be more popular on marriage bowls such as the two bowls from the Beijing Palace Museum collection, illustrated in Zhongguo Yuqi Quanji, Hebei meishu chubanshe, 1991, vol. 6, nos. 314 and 316; and a third bowl, from the Dexingshuwu collection, sold in these Rooms, 26 April 2004, lot 1226 (fig. 2).
The dragon-head handles on the present censer are each rendered with its majestic head looking outwards, above an S-shaped handle that forms the upper portion of the dragon's body. Its integral pair of wings transform into the dragon's front paws, and rest gently on the body of the censer. In proportion to the size of the censer, the relatively large handles provide a satisfactory three-dimensional visual balance against the tall domed cover. The winged dragon as a decorative motif first emerged on blue and white ceramics of the Ming dynasty Xuande period, and made a brief re-emergence in the Yongzheng period. It is possible that the present dragon motif was influenced by those painted on ceramics; compare with a Yongzheng-marked large dragon dish, sold in our New York Rooms, 22 March 2007, lot 336 (fig. 3).
The present censer and cover is of a considerably large size. Its well-matched cover is from the same original material, suggesting that the rough jade boulder would have been of substantial dimension in both width and height. Comparable to published examples, the censer and cover appears to be the largest example amongst this group of vessels, on average measuring approximately 20 cm across the handles; such as the example sold in our New York Rooms, 30 November 1983, lot 256. Compare with large white jade vessels of other forms, the first is a white jade marriage bowl from the cited Dexinshuwu collection (31.7 cm. diam.); and a white jade marriage bowl from the Hartman collection (23.8 cm. wide), sold in these Rooms, the Personal Collection of Alan and Simone Hartman, 28 November 2006, lot 1395.