This pair of porcelain vases is very comparable in form and design to two Qianlong-marked metal-bodied jars painted in enamels with a knotted cloth on a yellow ground, one in the Palace Museum, Beijing, included in the exhibition Splendours of China's Forbidden City. The Glorious Reign of Emperor Qianlong, The Field Museum, Chicago, 2004, cat. no. 336; the other formerly in collections of Lord Loch of Drylaw (1827-1900), Alfred Morrison (1821-1897) and Rt. Hon. Lord Margadale of Islay, T.D., at Fonthill House, Wiltshire, sold at Christie's London, 9th November 2004, lot 19, and again in these rooms 9th October 2007, lot 1325 (fig. 1). Also related are Qianlong-marked metal-bodied covered jars painted in enamels with a knotted cloth on yellow ground, but of different form and much smaller height, one in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, illustrated in the Museum’s exhibition Enamel Ware in the Ming and Ch'ing Dynasties, Taipei, 1999, pl. 109; and a pair formerly in the collection of Alfred Morrison, sold at Christie's London, 9th November 2004, lot 20.
Porcelains with the knotted cloth design are also exceedingly rare and these are all of different form and decoration to the current vases. See a zun-shaped vase painted with a pink-coloured knotted ribbon on a turquoise ground, illustrated in Kangxi. Yongzheng. Qianlong. Qing Porcelain from the Palace Museum Collection, Hong Kong, 1989, pl. 40; and a long-necked blue and white vase with a yellow-coloured ribbon, in the Musee Guimet, Paris, illustrated in La Chine des Porcelaines, Paris, 2004, pl. 54, and included in the exhibition The Imperial Packing Art of the Qing Dynasty, Palace Museum, Beijing, 2000, cat. no. 66.
For examples of glasswares, compare a Qianlong vase modelled in the form of a yellow brocade bag with a pink sash at the neck looped in a knot, from the collections of Prince Gong Yixin, brother of the Xianfeng Emperor (r. 1851-1861), A.W. Bahr and Paul and Helen Bernat, illustrated in Hugh Moss, By Imperial Command, Hong Kong, 1976, pl. 41, sold in these rooms, 15th November 1988, lot 77 (fig. 2), and now in the collection of the Hong Kong Museum of Art, included in the exhibition China. The Three Emperors 1662-1795, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2005, cat. no. 99. A Chinese lacquer box with the knotted design was included in the exhibition Imperial Packing Art of the Qing Dynasty, op. cit., cat. no. 161.
For examples of Japanese lacquer boxes see those included in the exhibition, Toyo no urushi kogei (Oriental Lacquer Arts), Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, 1977, cat. no. 297.
The pair of vases was once in the collection of J.M. Hu (1910-1992), a great connoisseur-collector and patron of the arts who made a large donation of ceramics to the Shanghai Museum, which today is exhibited there at the Zande Lou Gallery of Ceramics, and published in Wang Qingzheng and George Fan, Selected Ceramics from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. J.M. Hu, Shanghai Museum, Shanghai, 1989. An exhibition of part of his ceramic collection was jointly organised in 2005 by the Art Museum of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Shanghai Museum and the Capital Museum in Beijing, see Qing Imperial Monochromes in the Zande Lou Collection, Hong Kong, 2005. Twelve of his Qing imperial monochromes were sold at a theme sale in these rooms, 9th October 2012.
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