Large dragons depicted amongst lotus scrolls are found on Yongle globular vases (tianqiuping). By the Zhengde reign, the dragons were reduced in size and surrounded by a tighter ground of flower scrolls in a style more closely related to the present decoration, with this motif decorating a range of wares including vases, dishes and bowls. The craftsman has achieved a contemporaneity on the present vase through the elegant pear-shape which was more commonly employed for monochromes of the Qing dynasty. Compare a Yongle tianqiuping sold in our London rooms, 1st/2nd April 1974, lot 187; and a Zhengde zhadou, illustrated in Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, London 1994, vol. 2, pl. 686, and sold in these rooms, 7th April 2011, lot 60.
This exquisite dragon vase is extremely rare for its slender form decorated with a striking deep blue design of two dragons among a composite flower scroll. No other Yongzheng example appears to have been published although a Qianlong mark and period version, but of slightly larger size and the dragons rendered against a dense lotus scroll ground, from the Mrs Christian Holmes and Evelyn Annenberg-Hall collections, sold at Christie’s New York, 29th March 2006, lot 169, and again in these rooms, 8th April 2011, lot 3106. Compare also a Qianlong vase of this shape, similarly decorated with a broad band of underglaze red dragons amongst a cobalt blue floral ground between ruyi and lappet borders and stiff leaves around the neck, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, published in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Blue and White Porcelain with Underglaze Red (III), Hong Kong, 2000, pl. 209, together with a Yongzheng baluster vase rendered with a related motif of four dragons against a composite flower scroll, pl. 89.
This elegant form was adopted by the Qianlong Emperor who also employed it on monochrome glazed vessels; for example see a large flambé-glazed vase, in the Nanjing Museum, included in Zhongguo Qingdai guanyao ciqi, Shanghai, 2003, p. 345; another in the Palace Museum, Beijing, published in The Official Kiln Porcelain of the Chinese Qing Dynasty, Shanghai, 2003, pl. 345; and a third flambé-glazed vase decorated in gilt with a floral motif, from the Qing Court collection, illustrated in Kangxi. Yongzheng. Qianlong. Qing Porcelain from the Palace Museum Collection, Hong Kong, 1989, p. 393, pl. 74.
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