In its distinctive form and decorative pattern rendered in underglaze red and blue, this vase appears to be unique and no other example seems to be recorded. The 'prunus on crackled ice' motif is symbolic of the passing of winter and coming of spring. This decorative design gained much popularity during the Kangxi period, and continued to be used in the Qianlong reign when it was applied on a variety of media, including cloisonné, ceramics and enamelled metalwares. This subject matter is more commonly known in jar forms; see one from the Qing court collection, now preserved in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures in the Palace Museum. Blue and White Porcelain with Underglaze Red (III)
, Shanghai, 2000, pl. 40. Compare also two Yongzheng period pear-shaped vases in yuhuchunping
form, painted with underglaze-red peaches borne on leafy blue stems, illustrated ibid., pls 193 and 194.
Known as the first prime minister of the Republic of China, Tang Shaoyi (1861-1938) also served a number of diplomatic positions in Korea, Tibet, Manchuria and the United States. During his years of public service, he developed an interest in Chinese porcelain which induced him to embark on a journey of collecting upon his retirement until his death in 1938.