Although the present piece is related to Qianlong reign-marked moonflasks painted in underglaze copper-red with a dragon in the same pose above blue waves, the latter invariably have simpler loop handles, and cruciform blue clouds with horizontal steamers rather than the ascending clouds with ribbon-like tails found on the present flask. Examples include one from the Qing court collection and still in Beijing in the Palace Museum, ibid., pl. 213. Another flask from the Norton collection, sold in our London rooms, 5th November 1963, lot 203, and now in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, was included in the exhibition Chinese Ceramics, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1965, cat. no. 116. Compare also a flask from the Gerald Reitlinger collection, published in Soame Jenyns, Later Chinese Porcelain, London, 1951, pl. XCIV, fig. 1; and another vessel in the Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, included in the exhibition The Wonders of the Potter's Palette, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1984, cat. no. 66. Another flask from the famous collection of Dr. T.T. Tsui, is illustrated in The Tsui Museum of Art. Chinese Ceramics IV: Qing Dynasty, Hong Kong, 1995, pl. 84.
More examples of the common type includes a flask of Qianlong mark and period of this form and design in underglaze red and blue, from the British Rail Pension Fund, sold twice in these rooms, 17th November 1975, lot 221, and again 16th May 1989, lot 37, and for the third time at Christie's Hong Kong, 3rd November 1996, lot 776. Another Qianlong flask was sold in these rooms, 8th April 2009, lot 1605 (fig. 3). Compare also a similar flask illustrated in Exhibition of Imperial Porcelain of Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong, S. Marchant & Son, London, 1996, cat. no. 46.
This flask form is inspired by early Ming flasks of similar shape. See a Yongle period (1403-24) flask of floral design, from the former collection of the Ottoman Sultans in Istanbul, fitted with an Ottoman silver-gilt rim mount, illustrated in Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics in the Topkapi Saray Museum, Istanbul, London, 1986, vol. II, pl. 613; and another similarly shaped flask, from the collection of Sir Percival David and now in the British Museum, London, published in Oriental Ceramics. The World's Great Collections, Tokyo, 1982, vol. 6, pl. 28. Compare also two Xuande period (1426-1435) flasks of floral design, exhibited in Geng Baochang, ed., Early Ming Blue-and-white Porcelain in the Palace Museum, Beijing, 2002, vol. 1, pls. 87-88.
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