Plain white vases of this type are extremely rare. During the Qing dynasty, three types of white wares are recorded to have been produced: Ding-type wares, which were fired at a higher temperature than the original; soft-paste type wares which were characterised by a yellowish-ivory tinge; and the traditional high-fired wares with a transparent glaze, first created during the Yongle reign of the Ming dynasty, which formed the majority of white wares including the present.
The form appears to derive from early Ming moonflasks (bianhu) painted with flower scrolls in underglaze-blue which were revived during the Yongzheng reign and continued into the Qianlong period. This exact shape is better known with an enamelled design of exquisitely painted butterflies and flowers, also with an underglaze-blue Qianlong seal mark, of which only six pieces are known to have been published, including a pair sold at Christie’s London, 9th May 2017, lot 99.
Qianlong vases of related double-gourd form and flanked with ruyi handles, but with slight variations in proportions, are known; see one covered in a clair-de-lune glaze, from the Wah Kwong collection, included in the exhibition Chʻing porcelain from the Wah Kwong Collection, The Art Gallery, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1974, cat. no. 15; another sold at Christie’s London, 12th June 1989, lot 35A; and one carved with stylised lotus scrolls, covered in a pale celadon glaze, from the collection of the Hosokawa clan, published in Sekai toji zenshu / Collection of World’s Ceramics, vol. 12: Shinchou henfu Annan, Thai / Ch'ing Dynasty with a Supplement on Annamese Ceramics, Tokyo, 1956, pl. 92. A Qianlong mark and period vase of comparable form, decorated with lotus scrolls in underglaze-blue, was included in the exhibition Ming and Ch’ing Porcelain from the T.Y. Chao Family Foundation, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1978, cat. no. 88.
For the Yongzheng prototype to this form, see a vase carved with a lotus scroll, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Works of Chinese Ceramics, vol. 14, Shanghai, 1999, pl. 212, together with another decorated in doucai enamels, pl. 183.
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