Lot 525
  • 525


60,000 - 80,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • porcelain
  • Height 6 5/8  in., 16.8 cm 
elegantly potted, the bell-shaped body surmounted by a cylindrical neck with lipped rim, painted on both sides in with a highly stylized kui phoenix design, its head on the neck of the vase dissolving into abstract blue scrolls draping over the shoulders against a plain white ground, the down-turned crested head grasping a ring between its beak, the recessed base with a six-character reign mark in three columns in underglaze blue

Catalogue Note

Finely potted and brightly painted with a phoenix in vivid shades of cobalt blue, this vase displays the innovations made possible by the technical advances in porcelain production during the Kangxi period (r. 1662-1722). The emperor's revival of the imperial kilns at Jingdezhen early in his reign appears to have initiated a new departure for porcelain design, creating vessels of fresh forms and spirited designs like the present vase. The motif of a kui-phoenix, king of all birds, is known from bronze vessels from as early as the Warring States period (ca. 475-221 BC), and the present stylized design demonstrates the Qing trend of reinterpreting archaistic designs to achieve modern aesthetics.

A slightly larger vase of this type in the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated in Chen Runmin, Qing Shunzhi Kangxi chao qinghua ci [Qing blue and white porcelain from the Shunzhi and Kangxi periods], Beijing, 2005, pl. 266; one in the National Museum of China, Beijing, is published in Zhongguo Guojia Bowuguan guancang wenwu yanjiu congshu/Studies on the Collections of the National Museum of China. Ciqi juan [Porcelain section], Qingdai [Qing dynasty], Shanghai, 2007, pl. 2; and a larger vase, but with the reign mark within double circles, from the Meiyintang Collection, illustrated in Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, London, 1994-2010, vol. II, pl. 754, was sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 5th October 2011, lot 32 and again, 5th April 2017, lot 3623. See also another vase, but with the reign mark written in two horizontal lines, from the collections of J.T. Tai and Cyrus and Mildred Churchill, sold at Christie’s New York, 31st May 2010, lot 1993.

Vases of this type were also produced with the design executed in copper red; see one in the Shanghai Museum, Shanghai, illustrated in Zhongguo taoci quanji [Complete series on Chinese ceramics], Shanghai, 1999, vol. 14, pl. 24; one in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, published in Gugong Qing ci tulu. Kangxi yao, Yongzheng yao/Illustrated Catalogue of Ch'ing Dynasty Porcelain in the National Palace Museum, Republic of China. K'ang-hsi Ware and Yung-cheng Ware, Tokyo, 1980, pl. 21; and another sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 8th October 2013, lot 3116.