, the ‘official’ ware of the Southern Song court, is perhaps the most admired and desirable of all types of Chinese ceramics. The Yongzheng Emperor was a great admirer of guan
wares and is known to have sent original pieces from his collection to the imperial kilns at Jingdezhen as models to copy. The present exquisite vase is a fine example of such reproduction where the complexity of its seemingly simple form, the rare beauty of its glaze colour and the fascinating pattern of its crackle have been masterly achieved by the Jingdezhen potter. A very similar vase, possibly the pair to this piece, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated in Kangxi. Yongzheng. Qianlong. Qing Porcelain from the Palace Museum Collection,
Hong Kong, 1989, pl. 78. Another Yongzheng vase of the same form and animal-head handles but with the body decorated in relief and covered in a celadon glaze is also included ibid.,
pl. 105. Compare also a closely related teadust glazed hu,
in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, included in the Illustrated Catalogue of Ch'ing Dynasty Porcelain. K'ang-hsi Ware and Yung-cheng Ware,
Tokyo, 1980, pl. 152; and another from the British Rail Pension Fund sold in these rooms, 16th May 1989, lot 54.
The form of this vessel is derived from a bronze prototype. See a zun excavated from the Western Han tomb dated before 179 BC at Qianping, Yichang, Hubei province, published in Kaogu xuebao/Acta Archaeological Sinica, 1976, no. 2, p. 124, fig. 12.
Vases of this form continued to be made during the Qianlong reign in a variety of glazes; for example see a vase of similar size covered in a Ru-type glaze sold in these rooms, 29th April 1997, lot 578; a ‘robin’s egg’ glaze example of slightly larger proportions, sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 27th May 2009, lot 1895; and a larger teadust glazed version sold in these rooms, 10th April 2006, lot 1523.