3427
3427
A MAGNIFICENT AND EXTREMELY RARE IMPERIAL ROSE-QUARTZ 'DRAGON CARP' VASE
QING DYNASTY, QIANLONG PERIOD
Estimate
1,000,0001,500,000
JUMP TO LOT
3427
A MAGNIFICENT AND EXTREMELY RARE IMPERIAL ROSE-QUARTZ 'DRAGON CARP' VASE
QING DYNASTY, QIANLONG PERIOD
Estimate
1,000,0001,500,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Gems of Chinese Art from the Speelman Collection I

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Hong Kong

A MAGNIFICENT AND EXTREMELY RARE IMPERIAL ROSE-QUARTZ 'DRAGON CARP' VASE
QING DYNASTY, QIANLONG PERIOD
the substantial stone carved in the form of a large and a smaller carp leaping from a bed of turbulent swirling waves, each fish detailed with a scaly body with dorsal and pectoral fins, their eyes inlaid with tiger's eye stone bosses, the larger fish with its mouth agape showing sharp teeth and hollowed to form a vase, carved in high relief to the exterior with a sinuous striding dragon, the stone of a translucent rose-pink tone with icy inclusions, the wood stand deftly carved in openwork with lotus dispersed amongst flowing waves
22.2 cm, 8 3/4  in.
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Catalogue Note

Imperial works of art carved from rose-quartz for the Imperial Qing court are extremely rare. A highly valued and rare imported material, it was reserved for the finest quality items, such as the rare Imperial rose-quartz bowl in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Zhongguo yuqi quanji [Complete collection of Chinese jades], vol. 6, Shijiazhuang, 1993, pl. 20. Usually such costly material was used sparingly for miniature works of art, such as an imperial rose-quartz miniature snuff bottle, carved in the form of a peach, possibly created as a birthday gift for the emperor, illustrated in Hugh Moss, Victor Graham and Ka Bo Tsang, A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles: The Mary and George Bloch Collection, vol. 2, Hong Kong, 1998, no. 272, sold at Bonhams Hong Kong, 23rd November 2010, lot 86.

The present piece is of substantial size and powerfully carved, the movement of the carp depicted with great vigour, the natural variance in colour skilfully utilised into the carving. No comparable example appears to have been published. However, closely related counterparts are found in other materials, including two superlative works of art still in Beijing.

For a rock crystal double carp in the Palace Museum, Beijing, see Classics of the Forbidden City: Life in the Forbidden City of the Qing Dynasty, Beijing, 2007, pl. 219. A carnelian-agate example in the Heber R. Bishop collection was donated to the Metropolitan Museum in 1902, acc. no. 02.18.873. Compare also a spinach-green jade ‘double carp’ vase of identical iconography from the Qing Court collection, preserved in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures in the Palace Museum. Jadeware (III), Hong Kong, 1995, pl. 49. See also the Qianlong reign-marked yellow jade ‘double carp’ vase from the Palmer collection, included in the Victoria and Albert Museum exhibition Chinese Jade Throughout the Ages, London, 1975, cat. no. 421, and sold at Bonhams London, 11th June 2003, lot 29, and more recently in these rooms, 9th October 2007, lot 1210. For a carnelian-agate carving of an individual dragon-carp depicted leaping upwards, see the example advertised by Spink & Son Ltd on p. 32 of the catalogue of The International Exhibition of Chinese Art, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1935.  

The motif of leaping carp was a popular subject for its auspicious associations. According to Teresa Tse Bartholomew in Hidden Meanings in Chinese Art, San Francisco, 2006, p. 91, carp swimming upstream in the Yellow River must leap the rapids of Dragon's Gate; the first carp to succeed in doing this transforms itself into dragon. The feat is therefore a metaphor for a scholar who passes the civil service examinations and becomes a high official.

Gems of Chinese Art from the Speelman Collection I

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Hong Kong