Washers of this elegant form and subtle coloration are an innovation of the Kangxi reign and display the great technical advances made at the imperial kilns in Jingdezhen at the beginning of the Qing dynasty, which saw the creation of numerous monochrome glazes. The tian lan (sky blue) glaze is among the most striking products of the imperial kilns and was achieved by diminishing the amount of cobalt oxide in the glaze mix. Vessels covered in this delicate glaze are often very finely potted, an indication that they were probably made in the latter years of the Kangxi reign, as suggested by Suzanne G. Valenstein in A Handbook of Chinese Ceramics, New York, 1989, p. 241.
Three 'clair-de-lune' brush washers of this type from the Wiedener collection, now in the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., are illustrated in Decorative Arts, pt. II, Washington, 1998, pp 98 and 99; two in the Baur collection are published in John Ayers, The Baur Collection, Geneva, vol. 3, 1973, pls A318 and A320; and a further example was sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 1st November 1999, lot 341 and again in our London rooms, 12th July 2006, lot 153. See also a slightly smaller washer of this type in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Compendium of Collections in the Palace Museum. Ceramics, vol. 23, Shunzhi (1644-1661) and Kangxi (1662-1722) Periods of Qing Dynasty, pl. 62; and another in the Shanghai Museum, Shanghai, published in Kangxi Porcelain Ware from the Shanghai Museum Collection, Hong Kong, 1998, pl. 218.
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