Previously sold in these Rooms, The Imperial Sale, 27 April 1997, lot 76.
No similar vase of this unusual pattern appears to have been recorded.
Two blue and white vases with Yongzheng seal marks of this very large size, unusual shape and painting style have been published although they are decorated with only floral scrolls or fruit sprays. The former was sold in Hong Kong, 29 November 1977, lot 201; the latter is illustrated in the National Palace Museum, Taibei, Catalogue, Blue and White Ware of the Ch'ing Dynasty, Book I, p. 68, pl. 2-2d.
The distinctive style of painting in this paler blue colour with extensive simulated 'heaping and piling' is more commonly found on large Ming-style dishes made during the period, such as those painted with fruiting gourds.
The detail of the dragons, which mysteriously include both three and five-clawed varieties and the wave borders which unusually include bats is especially fine and dramatic. Although it is evidently in Ming style, the painting style brings in elements of Qing innovation. The dragons are thoroughly Qing in type and compare favourably with the magnificent rendition on a Qianlong 'dragon' bottle vase from the Jingguantang Collection, sold in these Rooms, 3 November 1996, lot 533, arguably the finest of its kind.