Details & Cataloguing

Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art

New York

the tapered body elegantly rising to a high-shoulder, surmounted by a tall cylindrical neck with gently flared rim, encircled at the base by three strings, the body finely carved with two sinuous dragons amongst crashing waves, covered overall in a smooth pale celadon green glaze, thinning to a whitish-green tone at the rim and over the rings, six-character mark in underglaze blue, fitted openwork lacquered wood and metal stand (2)
Height 7 3/4  in., 19.6 cm
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Acquired in San Francisco in the early 20th century and thence by descent.

Catalogue Note

Two vases of this design are preserved in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Geng Baochang, ed., Gugong Bowuyuan cang Qingdai yuyao ciqi [Qing porcelains from the Imperial kilns preserved in the Palace Museum], Beijing, 2005, vol. I, book 1, pls. 112 and 113, one of them published again in Kangxi, Yongzheng, Qianlong. Qing Porcelain from the Palace Museum Collection, Hong Kong, 1989, pl. 129, together with a small celadon water pot carved with a cloud design, pl. 130, that echoes both the silhouette of this vase and the shaded relief carving under a light celadon glaze, and might have been designed to accompany vases of this type on the scholar’s desk.

The above-mentioned vase in the Walters Art Museum is published in S.W. Bushell, Oriental Ceramic Art Illustrated by Examples from the Collection of W.T. Walters, London, 1981 (1896), col. pl. VII, and again in Robert Mintz, 2009, (see note 1), p. 67, fig. 50; another vase of this design from the Widener collection in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC., is illustrated in Virginia Bower et al., The Collections of the National Gallery of Art. Systematic Catalogue: Decorative Arts, part II: Far Eastern Ceramics and Paintings; Persian and Indian Rugs and Carpets, Washington, DC., 1998; one from the collection of Mrs. William H. Moore in the Yale University Art Gallery was included in the Gallery’s exhibition The Communion of Scholars. Chinese Art at Yale, China House Gallery, China Institute in America, New York, 1982, cat. no. 35; one (mistakenly identified as having a ‘clair-de-lune’ glaze) in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco from the Brundage collection is illustrated in René-Yvon Lefebvre d’Argencé, Chinese Ceramics in the Avery Brundage Collection, San Francisco, 1967, pl. LXIV C.

A similar piece was also sold in our Hong Kong rooms 29th November 1979, lot 363; another from the Tsui Museum of Art, Hong Kong, illustrated in The Tsui Museum of Art. Chinese Ceramics IV: Qing Dynasty, Hong Kong, 1995, pl. 3, was sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 3rd November 1996, lot 566; and a third was sold in our Hong Kong rooms 23rd October 2005, lot 368, and again at Christie’s Hong Kong, 29th May 2009, lot 1819.

Kangxi three-string vases also exist painted with underglaze-red dragons among carved white clouds, see a vase in the Walters Art Museum illustrated in Bushell, op.cit., fig. 194; and one in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, published together with a ‘peach-bloom’ glazed Kangxi vase and an underglaze-red decorated Yongzheng version, see John Ayers, ‘The “Peachbloom” Wares of the Kangxi Period (1662-1722)’, Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society, vol. 64, 1999-2000, p. 40, fig. 16.

Compare also an extremely rare monochrome white version carved in relief with a similar dragon design as the present vase, but inscribed with a spurious Xuande mark, lot 160 in the present sale.

Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art

New York