A SUPERB AND RARE CARVED CELADON-GLAZED 'PEONY' VASE, QIANLONG INCISED SEAL MARK AND PERIOD | 清乾隆 粉青釉纏枝牡丹紋撇口長頸瓶 《大清乾隆年製》款
Estimate: 300,000 - 500,000 GBP
A SUPERB AND RARE CARVED CELADON-GLAZED 'PEONY' VASE
QIANLONG INCISED SEAL MARK AND PERIOD
清乾隆 粉青釉纏枝牡丹紋撇口長頸瓶 《大清乾隆年製》款
the baluster body elegantly sweeping up to a slightly angular shoulder and surmounted by a tall slender neck and flared rim, finely and crisply carved around the body with undulating peony scrolls above a lappet border, all between pendant ruyi heads and trefoils, the neck adorned with upright plantain leaves between further bands of ruyi pendants, with keyfret borders skirting the shoulder and encircling the rim, covered overall in a translucent bluish-green glaze pooling to a rich celadon tone in the recesses, the base with an incised six-character seal mark
Height 32.4 cm, 12¾ in.
There is minor variation to the colour of the glaze around the moulded parts of the design on the neck and one approx. 0.5 cm diam., glaze imperfection to the neck.
"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. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."
This vase appears to be unique and it is exceedingly rare to find a monochrome celadon vessel of the Qianlong (1736-1795) period with such sophisticated carving. From its fine potting, translucent pale green celadon glaze and crisp peony scroll and supporting designs, this vase reveals the technical and artistic virtuosity of potters active at the imperial kilns in Jingdezhen in the 18th century. It is truly a porcelain masterpiece that evokes a sense of effortless elegance, despite its design being meticulously executed and conceived in advance. Its decoration and glaze draw from the celebrated ceramic tradition of Longquan in Zhejiang province, and reinterpret it to suit the Qianlong Emperor’s eclectic taste.
Celadon-glazed wares are perhaps the type of ceramics most intimately associated with China; their origins can be traced back to the Bronze Age, and since then they continued to be popular throughout the Chinese empire. The brilliant bluish-celadon glazes created at the Longquan kilns had provided much inspiration to the potters of the Jingdezhen imperial kilns since the early Ming dynasty (1368-1644). By lessening the amount of iron in the glaze the Jingdezhen potters were able to create a cool and delicate celadon glaze that when applied on a white porcelain body resembled the translucency and texture of jade. A wide range of exquisite celadon tones were created in the early Qing dynasty, as a result of the Yongzheng (r. 1723-35) and Qianlong Emperors’ appreciation of Song dynasty (960-1279) porcelain. Much admired by contemporary connoisseurs was the douqing [bean-green], a bright sea-green colour, and the present fenqing [soft-green], a pale celadon-green glaze. When applied to finely carved pieces as on this vase, the thinning and pooling of the glaze on the raised lines and the recesses create a very delicate shaded effect and accentuate the crispness of the design.
The elegant silhouette of this vase, its restrained decoration, subtle glaze and incised mark suggest it was made in the early years of the Qianlong reign, before designs became overtly elaborate. The imperial kilns at Jingdezhen were then under the direction of China’s most famous superintendent, Tang Ying (1682-1756), who strove for technical perfection. Tang’s exposure to the imperial art collections while employed by the Imperial Household Department in his youth, allowed him to study in detail the finest antique ceramics of the Song and Ming periods, which he aligned to the personal taste of the Yongzheng and later the Qianlong emperor. The luxuriant peony scroll on this piece, which is particularly crisp in its rendering, was adapted from the somewhat rough and rustic designs on Longquan celadons of the Yuan (1279-1368) and Ming periods. By adding tall lappets at the neck, precisely carved ruyi heads at the shoulder and covering the vase with a subtle and elegant pale-celadon glaze, the craftsman has skilfully translated the original Longquan peony design into the refined decorative language of the Qing court.
Qianlong vases with such graceful profiles and elegant designs are rare and no other closely related vase appears to have been published. This vase however shares similarities with some of the finest celadon-glazed wares made in this period; the crispness of its design can be compared with a small globular jar, with the reign mark incised and gilded, from the collections of Charles Oswald Liddell, Captain A.T. Warre, G. and N. Warre, and H.M Knight, included in numerous exhibitions and sold three times in our Hong Kong rooms, in 1981, 1999 and 9th October 2007, lot 1203; a baluster-shaped vase, in the collection of the Burton family, and later in the collection of Tom and Ruth Jones, sold at Christie’s New York, 29th March 2014, lot 2181; a larger hexagonal vase, with the reign mark in underglaze blue, in the Huaihaitang collection, included in the exhibition Ethereal Elegance. Porcelain Vases of the Imperial Qing, Art Museum, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2008, pl. 50; and a shouldered hu, sold in these rooms, 20th June 2001, lot 30, and again in our Hong Kong rooms, 8th April 2007, lot 719.
A related pattern of lappets at the neck is found on a globular vase, also covered in a similar celadon-green glaze, sold at Christie’s New York, 22nd/23rd March 2018, lot 1544; a reticulated hexagonal vase, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Kangxi, Yongzheng, Qianlong. Qing Porcelain from the Palace Museum Collection, Hong Kong, 1989, pl. 122; and its pair sold in our New York rooms, 12th June 1984, lot 292, and again in our Hong Kong rooms, 2nd May 2005, lot 516.
本乾隆瓶造型秀麗，紋飾優雅，如此佳品極爲珍罕，據現時記載並無近例，唯可比較同期其他青釉器：紋飾利落，可比較一小罐，描金及刻款，出自Charles Oswald Liddell、Captain A.T. Warre、G. and N. Warre及H.M Knight收藏，曾多次展覽，三度售於香港蘇富比，先後為1981、1999年及2007年10月9日，編號1203；另比一例，出自Burton家族收藏，後轉入Tom 及Ruth Jones收藏，售於紐約佳士得2014年3月29日，編號2181；懷海堂收藏一六方瓶例，尺寸較大，釉下青花年款，曾展於. 《機暇清賞－－懷海堂藏清代御窰瓷缾》，香港中文大學文物館，香港，2007年，圖版50；一壺例售於倫敦蘇富比2001年6月20日，編號30，後易手於香港蘇富比2007年4月8日，編號719。再比一瓶例，牡丹紋飾，浮雕年款，售於巴黎佳士得2019年6月12日，編號126。