of archaistic hu shape, rising from a splayed foot to generous rounded sides, superbly decorated with a herd of deer in rocky landscape rising to high mountains in the distance, the bucks, does and their young carefully painted in tones of brown and iron-red, sometimes with spotted fur and a few in dappled white coats, some gambolling and running, others resting or grazing amidst twisted pine trees, with fruiting peach trees, lingzhi fungus, and bamboo rising from elaborately drawn and shaded rockwork in tones of blue and green, set on the sides with a pair of stylised dragon handles painted in shaded tones of coral-red outlined in gilding, the base inscribed with the six-character seal mark in underglaze blue
The Collection of Wilson P. Foss (1855-1930) of Underelms, Nyack, NY (no. 69).
Sotheby's New York, 18th september 1996, lot 238.
Sotheby's Hong Kong, 1st November 1999, lot 398.
Vases of this highly complex and exquisitely composed design are in many major museum and private collection; compare examples from the Qing Court collection, now in the Palace Museum, Beijing, in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Porcelains with Cloisonne Enamel Decoration and Famille Rose Decoration, Hong Kong, 1999, pl.85; a pair and a single vase in the Shanghai Museum, illustrated in Selected Ceramics from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs.J.M.Hu, Shanghai 1989, no.67, and in Chûgoku tôji zenshû, vol. 21, Kyoto, 1981, pl. 103; one from the Grandidier collection in the Musée Guimet, Paris, included in The World’s Great Collect ions. Oriental Ceramics, vol. 7, Tokyo, 1981, no. 190; and one from the collection of Stevenson Burke, sold in our New York rooms, 8th May, 1980, lot 248, and included in the exhibition 100 Masterpieces of Imperial Chinese Ceramics from the Au Bak Ling Collection, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1998.
See also a similar Qianlong vase, from the British Rail Pension Fund, sold in these rooms, 29th November 1977, lot 159, and again, 16th May 1989, lot 89, on loan at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1978-85, and at the Dallas Museum of Art, 1985-1988.
The deer symbolizes immortality and is the companion of Shoulao, the God of Longevity. It also represents filial piety which comes from the folk tale of Zhou Yanzi. This is a story of a young boy who tries to get milk from a deer to cure his ailing father. To achieve his goal he wears deer skin and joins a deer herd to gather milk. The word 'deer' in Chinese is lu which is the homophone of lu (official salary). Hence, the deer also represents wealth and is associated with official and scholarly success. The idea conveyed in the ' Hundred Deer' design is a wish for great wealth and success.
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