121
121
A SUPERBLY CARVED AND RARE WHITE JADE BARBED VASE, GU
QING DYNASTY, QIANLONG PERIOD
Estimate
3,000,0005,000,000
LOT SOLD. 12,175,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT
121
A SUPERBLY CARVED AND RARE WHITE JADE BARBED VASE, GU
QING DYNASTY, QIANLONG PERIOD
Estimate
3,000,0005,000,000
LOT SOLD. 12,175,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Important Chinese Art from the Collection of Sir Quo-Wei Lee II

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Hong Kong

A SUPERBLY CARVED AND RARE WHITE JADE BARBED VASE, GU
QING DYNASTY, QIANLONG PERIOD
exceptionally worked with a flaring trumpet neck divided into six petal lobes of bracket foliations, each meticulously accentuated with sharply defined ridges with corresponding grooves, resting on a central section and splayed hollow foot of corresponding form, all supported on a stepped square-cut foot, the stone of an even white colour with cloudy inclusions, wood stand
20.8 cm, 8 1/8  in.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Sotheby's Hong Kong, 20th May 1981, lot 891.

Literature

Sotheby’s Hong Kong – Twenty Years, 1973-1993, Hong Kong, 1993, pl. 505.
Sotheby's Thirty Years in Hong Kong: 1973-2003, Hong Kong, 2003, pl. 377. 

Catalogue Note

Deceptively simple in its refined form and restrained decoration, the technical prowess and artistic imagination of jade carvers during the Qianlong period is displayed in this magnificent vase. The form of this piece draws inspiration from archaic bronze wine vessels, gu, made in the Shang (16th century-c.1046 BC) and Western Zhou (c.1046-771 BC) dynasties, skilfully adapted to suit the refined taste of the Emperor. The robust shape of the bronze prototype was transformed into a graceful barbed silhouette that resembles the upper view of an open flower, and the bold designs of the original, which were meant to increase their dramatic appearance, are replaced by undecorated surfaces. The result is a vase that appears modern yet steeped in classical symbolism, and one that also epitomises the aesthetic ideal of elegant simplicity.   

The present vase represents one of the most graceful and successful reinterpretation of the bronze gu shape and epitomises the antiquarian nature that characterises jade carvings of this period. An erudite scholar and passionate collector of antiques, the Qianlong Emperor’s love for the past was grounded in his admiration for Chinese history and influenced by Confucian philosophy, which emphasised the study of history in the pursuit of virtue. The Qianlong Emperor actively influenced jade production, criticising the ‘vulgar’ style popular in the 18th century as excessively ornate, and urging craftsmen to study antique vessels and adapt them to the jade medium. The Xiqing gujian [Catalogue of Xiqing antiquities], which was compiled by court artists between 1749 and 1755, and comprised line drawings of some 1500 objects in the imperial collection, was circulated among craftsmen who were encouraged to take inspiration from it.

Vases of this elegant form and such restrained decoration are rare. A celadon jade vase of this form but fashioned with four handles, was sold in our London rooms, 27th June 1974, lot 35; a spinach-green jade example with two handles was sold in our London rooms, 11th May 2011, lot 300; and another of larger size, from the Qing court collection and still in Beijing, is illustrated in Compendium of Collections in the Palace Museum. Jade, vol. 10: Qing Dynasty, Beijing, 2011, pl. 80.

Barbed vases are also known carved with taotie masks on the raised mid-section. Compare a vase in the De An Tang collection, included in the exhibition A Romance with Jade, Palace Museum, Beijing, 2004, cat. no. 126; and another from the collection of Major R.W. Cooper, sold twice at Christie’s London in 1963 and 2008, and most recently at Christie’s Hong Kong, 1st December 2010, lot 3059.

The barbed shape of this vase, which combines graceful curves and sharp ridges, was also experimented on vases of stouter and broader proportions, which were inspired by archaic bronze zun. See for example a vase also with animal-head handles, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated op. cit., pl. 49.

Important Chinese Art from the Collection of Sir Quo-Wei Lee II

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Hong Kong