The poems are recorded in Yuzhi leshan tang quanji dingben [Definitive edition of the complete works from the delight in Goodness Hall, by His Majesty), Siku quanshu ed., vol. 24, pp. 15-16. The writings in this collection date from before he became emperor. These four poems, together with an additional one, were originally composed for a set of five paintings by Jiang Tingxi (1669-1732) illustrating peach blossoms and willow, mallow, prunus, lotus, and pine and peony, bearing the imperial inscriptions. However, this vase is unusual as it illustrates the musk mallow and peony along with the chrysanthemum and flowering pomegranate.
The opulence of the present vase has been achieved through the skilful juxtaposition of the scholarly decoration of the flowers and calligraphy on a crisp white ground against the luxurious sgraffiato and flower scroll borders. Such design also reflects the Qianlong Emperor’s taste for both the lavish and traditional. The rich web of iron-red feathery scrolls gives the impression of a pink ground when viewed from a distance and it is only upon closer inspection that the full effect can be appreciated. Furthermore, the gilt-bordered panels, mouth and base of neck heighten the sense of extravagance.
No other closely related vase appears to have been published. There are, however, related eight-panelled vases that combine imperial poems and corresponding floral paintings. See for example a slightly smaller cylindrical vase with a tall flared neck flanked by handles in the form of bats suspending tassels, the similarly lobed panels placed between doucai flower scrolls, in the Qing court collection and still in Beijing, published in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Porcelains with Cloisonné Enamel Decoration and Famille Rose Decoration, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 97; and a much larger turquoise-ground vase, from the Wang Xing Lou Collection, included in the exhibition Imperial Perfection. The Palace Porcelain of Three Chinese Emperors. Kangxi, Yongzheng, Qianlong, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, 2004, cat. no. 53.
Versions of this vase were also made with four panels, such as a smaller gold-ground vase, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, included in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Porcelains with Cloisonné Enamel Decoration and Famille Rose Decoration, op. cit. pl. 137; a blue-ground octagonal vase in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, included in the Museum’s Special Exhibition of K’ang-hsi, Yung-cheng and Ch’ien-lung Porcelain Ware from the Ch’ing Dynasty in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1986, cat. no. 80; and a square vase with blue ground, sold in these rooms, 8th April 2013, lot 3025. A cylindrical pink-ground vase moulded with six lobed panels to the exterior, from the estate of Mr L.J. Pead, was also sold in these rooms, 8th April 2014, lot 3050.
Vases bearing panels of these inscriptions and flowers continued to be produced in the early years of the succeeding reign of Jiaqing, such as a yellow-ground ovoid vase with two panels each of flowers and inscriptions, in the Qing court collection and still in Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Porcelains with Cloisonné Enamel Decoration and Famille Rose Decoration, op. cit., pl. 169, where the author notes that this particular group of ceramics were commissioned for the Emperor Emeritus, the retired Qianlong Emperor. Another Jiaqing vase, of octagonal form with each side decorated with an inscription in standard script alternating with flowers, was sold at Christie’s London, 8th November 2016, lot 83.
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