The present bowls are exceptional for their large size and brilliant translucent yellow colouration, which is highlighted through the lack of any embellishment, which was much favoured by the Qing Court for its association with the imperial colour of yellow. Since the Ming dynasty yellow jade was recognised by scholars and connoisseurs as one of the most valued variations of nephrite. In his miscellany Yanxian Qingshang [Refined enjoyment of elegant leisure], the dramatist Gao Lian (fl. 1573-1581) noted, "Of all jade materials, yellow stones with a mellow tone are the best and mutton-white ones come second". Because of its rarity, the brownish skin was often worked into the piece, as seen on the present pair, to increase its overall size and show the carver’s respect for the rare and valuable material.
Bowls fashioned from yellow jade are rare, and each appears to have been individually fashioned according to the natural boulder, with subtle differences in the proportions or foot; a smaller example of narrower proportions and a taller foot, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, is published in Gugong bowuyuan wenwu cangpin daxi. Yuqi juan/Compendium of Collections in the Palace Museum: Jade, vol. 10: Qing, Beijing, 2011, pl. 169; a marginally larger bowl of similar form to the present but with a taller foot, incised with a Qianlong reign mark and of the period, was sold in our New York rooms, 23rd March 1998, lot 349, and again in these rooms, 8th October 2009, lot 1807, from the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat collection; and a smaller pair of bowls and covers, attributed to the Jiaqing period, from the collection of T.Y. Chao, was sold in these rooms, 18th November 1986, lot 164.
A small number of earlier yellow jade bowls is known; see one of conical form, attributed to the Song dynasty, from the Qing court collection and still in Beijing, illustrated in the Compendium of Collections in the Palace Museum. Jade, vol. 5, Tang, Song, Liao, Jin and Yuan Dynasties, Beijing, 2011, pl. 70; another with a lipped rim, from the collection of J.C. Thomson and now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, included in the Oriental Ceramic Society exhibition Chinese Jade Throughout the Ages, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1975, cat. no. 274; and two further bowls, in the Museum of East Asian Art, Bath, illustrated in Angus Forsyth and Brian McElney, Jades from China, Bath, 1994, pls. 249 and 251. Compare also a bowl with flared sides, unearthed from the Southern Song tomb of Zhu Xiyan and his wife at Chengguan, Xiuning, Anhui province, and illustrated in The Complete Collection of Unearthed Jades in China, Beijing, 2005, vol. 6, pl. 174.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale