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Details & Cataloguing

Important Chinese Art

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London

A RARE 'JIZHOU' 'PHOENIX' VASE YUAN DYNASTY
the baluster body rising from a slightly spreading foot to a waisted neck and slightly lipped rim, applied with a thick opaque black glaze, reserved on the buff biscuit with two pairs of phoenix circling in the air, one of each with four long tail feathers, the two pairs divided by clouds, the base glazed in black below the foot
28 cm, 11 in. 
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Provenance

Sotheby’s London, 11th December 1990, lot 220. 

Catalogue Note

Jizhou vases decorated with this elaborate phoenix design are rare, and the present piece is particularly notable for its rich black-coffee brown glaze that provides a striking contrast with the two pairs of phoenix in white reserve. The four birds appear animated with the details of the flowing feathers and eyes painted in swift brushwork.

A similar vase, in the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, is published in Robert D. Mowry, Hare's Fur, Tortoiseshell and Partridge Feathers, Cambridge, Mass, 1995, pl. 103; another, illustrated in Nuno de Castro, A Ceramica e a Porcelana Chinesas, Porto, 1992, vol. 1, pl. 169, was sold in these rooms, 11th December 1990, lot 220; a slightly larger meiping was sold in our New York rooms, 17th March 2015, lot 181; and a smaller example, decorated with a less elaborate design, was sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 4th December 2015, lot 265. Compare also a meiping of the same shape but decorated with a blossoming prunus branch illustrated in the Complete Collection of Treasures from the Palace Museum. Porcelain of the Song Dynasty (II), Hong Kong, 1996, pl. 217.

Mowry, op. cit., p. 253, notes that this vase is a quintessential Song shape which originated from silver bottles, such as the one recovered from a Song tomb dated to 1195 in Jiangpu county, Jiangsu province, and another recovered amongst the cargo of the Chinese merchant ship that sank off the coast of Sinan, Korea, in the early 1320s. Mowry suggests that the Sinan shipwreck silver bottle, which has straight walls, broad and high-set shoulders, and a waisted neck with a slightly flaring lip, is possibly the closest in form to Jizhou vases of this shape.

Important Chinese Art

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London