Lot 514
  • 514


300,000 - 500,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Width 22 1/4  in., 56.5 cm
each sturdily potted with flaring sides rising from a conforming splayed base to a wide everted, lipped and barbed rim, the gently curving sides divided neatly into eight rectangular panels, brilliantly enameled with finely painted scenes depicting Daoist Immortals receiving auspicious offerings from young acolytes, all amid swirling celestial clouds and symbols of longevity including dishes and baskets laden with large ripe peaches, cranes with precious objects suspended from their pointed beaks, deer with stalks of lingzhi, elegant ruyi scepters, towering pine trees and small tufts of foliage emerging from varying sized rockwork, one jardinière with the deities in varying poses, the other with alternating portrayals of Shou Lao either seated or standing, the flat rim with boughs of camellia issuing lush flowers among tender leaves, the base with a further floral border above a diaper pattern, the interior partially glazed and with a large circular aperture for drainage, inscribed with a six-character mark in underglaze blue under the rim, with metal liners and wood stands (6)


Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland.
Christie's New York, 21st September 2000, lot 358.


One jardinière has a restored long body crack from rim to base. The other jardiniere has three cracks: the longest crack runs about ¾ of the way down the body and has associated infilled chips to the rim and smaller ones along the side; the 2nd spreads from the central aperture across the base and to the lower body, the 3rd is a short hairline at the foot. Both jardinieres have restored minor frits, flakes, and chips to the rims and edges and expected wear to the enamels.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Exquisitely painted in vivid colored enamels, this pair of jardinières represents the pinnacle of doucai porcelain in the Kangxi period, when porcelain production at the Imperial kilns in Jingdezhen reached a mature phase. The exceptional skill of craftsmen is seen in their fine potting and meticulous painting, particularly in the rendering of craggy rocks and gnarled tree trunks. Soft and vibrant enamels are applied harmoniously, and a sense of movement in each scene is cleverly achieved through billowing clouds and flowing water. The fine brushwork suggests the scenes were borrowed from woodblock-printed pattern books and painting manuals, as observed by James Watt in Possessing the Past: Treasures from the National Palace Museum, National Palace Museum, Taipei, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Taipei and New York, 1996, p. 506. These vessels belong to a distinct group of doucai jardinières made during the reign of Kangxi, all of which bear a style of reign mark that has been thoroughly studied by Peter Y.K. Lam in ‘Lang Tingji and the Porcelain of the Late Kangxi Period’, Transactions of the Oriental Ceramics Society, vol. 68, 2003-2004, p. 44. Lam proposes that vessels with this mark, which is characterized by the character ‘Qing’ written with a vertical stroke in the ‘moon’ radical, were made in the latter years of the reign, between 1713 and 1722, when the Emperor passed away, as the same style of writing is also found on early Yongzheng porcelains. He further proposes that porcelains with this mark and painted with longevity subjects, such as these jardinières, were made in 1722 in anticipation of the Emperor’s 70th birthday the following year. Imperial birthday celebrations occasioned a massive display of wealth and power, and jardinières of this type would have been filled with appropriate plants and placed on view for guests to admire. Paintings illustrating the Kangxi Emperor’s 60th birthday celebration and the Qianlong Emperor’s 70th birthday celebration were included in the exhibition China: The Three Emperors, 1662-1795, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2005, cat. nos 24 and 25.

Jardinières belonging to this group share a number of features, including their impressive size, faceted bodies and six-character marks inscribed on the underside of the rim. Known examples have either six or eight sides, such as the present pair; an everted rim that is either shaped or geometric; and a continuous waisted foot or multiple ruyi-form feet. Jardinières of this octagonal form are rare, and only one other similar pair appears to be known, sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 20th October 1995, lot 743. See also an underglaze blue jardinière of the same form and related Daoist imagery in the Nanjing Museum illustrated in Qing Imperial Porcelain, Art Gallery, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1995, pl. 15.

A jardinière of hexagonal form and related design in the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Porcelains in Polychrome and Contrasting Colours, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 192. Other hexagonal examples include: a pair sold in our London rooms, 10th July 1979, lot 175; one supported on bracket feet from the Winston Guest Collection, sold in these rooms, 2nd December 1967, lot 92; another in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, also on bracket feet, included in the exhibition Possessing the Past, op. cit., pl. 289; and a jardinière, also with male Daoist Immortals and a shaped rim, but resting on ruyi feet, sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 31st October-1st November 1974, lot 271 and again, at Christie's New York, 15th-16th September 2011, lot 1549. A blue and white example of this form and decoration is in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Chen Rumin ed., Gugong bowuguan Qingdai ciqi leixuan, Qing Shunzhi Kangxi chao qinghuaci [Qing porcelain from the Palace Museum Collection selected by type. Blue and white porcelain of the Shunzhi and Kangxi reigns of the Qing], Beijing, 2005, pl. 339.