14
14
A VERY FINE BLUE AND WHITE ‘FLOWER AND FRUIT’ GARLIC-MOUTH BOTTLE VASE
SEAL MARK AND PERIOD OF QIANLONG
Estimate
5,000,0007,000,000
LOT SOLD. 6,415,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT
14
A VERY FINE BLUE AND WHITE ‘FLOWER AND FRUIT’ GARLIC-MOUTH BOTTLE VASE
SEAL MARK AND PERIOD OF QIANLONG
Estimate
5,000,0007,000,000
LOT SOLD. 6,415,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Selected Imperial Ceramics from the Tianminlou Collection

|
Hong Kong

A VERY FINE BLUE AND WHITE ‘FLOWER AND FRUIT’ GARLIC-MOUTH BOTTLE VASE
SEAL MARK AND PERIOD OF QIANLONG
with a pear-shaped body supported on a spreading foot and tapering to a tall slender neck with a garlic-head mouth and thin lip, the body painted in bright cobalt-blue tones with stipples to imitate the ‘heaped and piled’ effect, decorated with alternating flowering and fruiting branches of the sanduo arranged in two registers, all between lappet borders, the neck adorned with a band of pendent lappets, each enclosing a double-trefoil motif above a key-fret band and pendent ruyi heads, the bulbous mouth with a floral scroll below a further key-fret frieze at the rim, the foot skirted with a band of waves, the base inscribed with a six-character seal mark, wood stand
27.7 cm, 10 7/8  in.
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Provenance

Collection of T.Y. Chao (1912-1999).
Sotheby's Hong Kong, 18th November 1986, lot 81.

Exhibited

Exhibition of Ming and Ch'ing Porcelain from the Collection of the T.Y. Chao Family Foundation, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1978, cat. no. 91.
Chinese Porcelain in the S.C. Ko Tianminlou Collection, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1987, cat. no. 61.
Blue and White Porcelain from the Tianminlou Collection, Chang Foundation, Taipei, 1992, cat. no. 86.
Tianminlou qinghua ci tezhan [Special exhibition of blue and white porcelain from the Tianminlou collection], Shanghai Museum, Shanghai, 1996.

Literature

Liu Liang-yu, A Survey of Chinese Ceramics, vol. 5: Ch'ing Official and Popular WaresTaipei, 1991, p. 159.
Blue and White Porcelain from the Collection of Tianminlou Foundation, Shanghai, 1996, no. 92.

Catalogue Note

Elegantly shaped with smoothly sloping shoulders and elongated neck, suantouping or ‘garlic-mouth’ vases are among the most interesting vessel shapes of Chinese porcelain. The form, featuring a distinctive bulbous mouth in the shape of a garlic fruit, was popular in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. Generally, imperial porcelain vases during the Qing period were manufactured for decorative purposes or as flower vases. Suantouping, with their typical narrow mouth, would be suited to hold one flower or a single fruiting branch, which would match one of those depicted on the vase. Fired at the imperial kilns at Jingdezhen, this attractive design is beautifully rendered, successfully displaying the mottled ‘heaped and piled’ effect of the most desirable of early Ming period (1368-1644) blue-and-white porcelains.

The Qianlong Emperor (r. 1736-1795) is known to have commissioned close copies of early Ming porcelains at the imperial kilns at Jingdezhen. Although there appears to be no exact prototype of this kind of suantouping from the early Ming period, its design of individual fruiting branches is seen on ceramic wares as early as the Yongle reign (1403-1424). The Yongle prototypes are painted with six or ten fruiting sprigs, varying in size and border decoration, see Zhongguo taoci quanji [Complete series on Chinese ceramics], Shanghai, 1999-2000, vol. 12, pl. 12 where a Yongle meiping vase is illustrated from the Palace Museum in Beijing. At that time, the design is mostly seen on vases, although bowls, however rare, are also known, such as the bowl sold in these rooms, 7th October 2015, lot 3606.  

After the Yongle period, the ‘fruiting branch’ design, celebrating auspicious wishes for longevity and prosperity, continued to be popular on imperial wares, but then mainly on bowls and less on vases, compare for example, a Xuande bowl of conical shape, illustrated in Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, London, 1994, vol. 2, no. 671.  In the Qing dynasty, this design re-appears on vases.

The origin of the ‘garlic-mouth’ as a decorative element, is uncertain, but the vessel itself is modeled after an archaic bronze wine vessel named hu with a mouth distinctively formed of garlic cloves, see Jenny So, Eastern Zhou Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, New York, 1995, no. 52, where the hu is attributed to the late Eastern Zhou, late Warring States period, 4th-3rd century BC. The bronze hu equally features a slightly flaring ring foot, but a shorter, rounder body and a longer neck. In its shape, the suantouping of the Ming period tends to be closer to the bronze prototype than the Qing variant, which is much more elegantly shaped and better adapted to Qing court taste.

‘Garlic-mouth’ vases of this design were first produced in the Yongzheng reign, a Yongzheng example was sold in these rooms, 29th November 1978, lot 234, and continued to be popular throughout the Qing dynasty; compare a Jiaqing version in the Palace Museum in Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Blue and White Porcelain with Underglazed Red (III), Hong Kong, 2000, pl. 145; and a Daoguang example, included in the exhibition Imperial Porcelain of Late Qing, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1983, cat. no. 1, from the Simon Kwan collection.

These vases are also known with various monochrome glazes, celadon, teadust, iron-red or claire-de-lune. A rare Qianlong-marked Ru-type glazed vase, was sold in these rooms, 8th October 2013, lot 3120.

Identical vases of Qianlong mark and period are in several museums: in the National Palace Museum in Taipei, illustrated in Gugong cang ci. Qing qinghua ci/Porcelain of the National Palace Museum. Blue and White Ware of the Ch’ing Dynasty, Hong Kong, 1968, vol. 2, pls 5a-c; in the Capital Museum in Beijing, included in Zhongguo taoci quanji [The complete works of Chinese ceramics], vol. 15: Qing (II), Shanghai, 1999, no. 8 and in the Nanjing Museum illustrated in Zhongguo Qingdai guanyao ciqi/The Official Kiln Porcelain of the Chinese Qing Dynasty, Shanghai, 2003, p. 211.

Similar examples have been sold in these rooms, 19th November 1986, lot 225 and in our New York rooms, 30th March 2006, lot 314.

Selected Imperial Ceramics from the Tianminlou Collection

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Hong Kong