Qing Dynasty, Qianlong period
the finely potted pear-shaped body rising from a flared foot to a wide flaring mouth, superbly painted in underglaze-blue to the body with two pairs of opposing archaistic kui dragons, their curled bifurcated tails interlocking, and their jaws clenching on a scrolling leafy lotus stem issuing a large lotus bloom and further smaller blooms, their scrolling legs merging with further lotus scrolls at the sides, all between a border of ruyi heads at the shoulder and ruyi and upright lappets at the base, the neck decorated with four confronting pairs of kui dragons, their limbs and tails interlocked amid stylised lotus sprays, all above a keyfret band and below a further band of ruyi heads at the rim, the foot with a classic scroll, all reserved in striking contrast on a rich lemon-yellow ground, the base and interior glazed white
Sotheby's Hong Kong, 20th November 1984, lot 429.
The Jarras Collection.
Christie's Hong Kong, 8th October 1990, lot 361.
Christie’s Hong Kong, 2nd November 1999, lot 593.
The combination of a cobalt-blue design on a yellow enamel ground was already in use in the early Ming dynasty although the yellow-and-blue colour contrast became much more effective in the Qing period, especially during Qianlong's reign. No other similar vase appears to be recorded although a vase of this design in underglaze-blue only was sold in these rooms, 21st May 1980, lot 182.
Although the present piece is unmarked, in its fine enamelling and elegant form it rivals with the best wares made for the Imperial palace. For other examples belonging to this special group of wares see a Qianlong vase decorated with phoenix in underglaze-blue on yellow-ground illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Blue and White Porcelain with Underglazed Red (III), Shanghai, 2000, pl. 234, together with another vase of different form painted with interlocking flower sprays, pl. 236.
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