A RARE CELADON-GLAZED 'DRAGON' AMPHORA VASE
KANGXI MARK AND PERIOD
清康熙 冬青釉暗花海水龍紋萊菔尊 《大清康熙年製》款
the elongated ovoid body with high rounded shoulders, sweeping to a tall, slightly waisted cylindrical neck encircled with three filets and surmounted by a gently flaring rim, the lower body finely carved with two sinuous three-clawed dragons rising from combed, rolling waves and meandering cloud wisps, the interior and exterior under a translucent pale celadon glaze pooling in the recesses to a deeper green and draining to white at the rim and filets, the recessed base glazed white and with a six-character mark in underglaze blue in three columns
Height 7⅝ in., 19.5 cm
The footring with a chip apprx. 0.6 cm long, and a few scattered firing imperfections including a small area of infill apprx. 0.3 cm long at the base of a cloud scroll and a glaze pull below the outer rim. The surface with a few scattered light scratches.
Please note that this lot includes a stand, frame or other component made from a type of Chinese hardwood, which, if exported, will require a CITES permit to leave the United States.
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.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.
For more information on and additional videos for this lot, please contact Cindy.Qi@sothebys.com.
Sotheby's Hong Kong, 28th November 1979, lot 363.
Exhibition of Ancient Chinese Ceramics from the Collection of the Kau Chi Society of Chinese Art, Art Gallery, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1981, cat. no. 133.
Zhongguo mingtao riben xunhui zhan. Gangtai mingjia shoucang taoci jingpin [Exhibition of Famous Chinese Ceramics Touring Japan. Fine Ceramics from Private Hong Kong and Taiwanese Collections], Nihonbashi Takashimaya, Tokyo, 1992, p. 17.
Deceptively understated in design and form, this rare vase highlights the technical advances made in the Kangxi reign by combining tradition with innovation. Aware of the progress made in ceramic production and design in the West via Jesuit missionaries at court, the emperor sought to reinstate the glory of Chinese porcelain production by engaging his most resourceful and skilled artisans while remaining rooted in the traditional literati aesthetic. The present vase exemplifies this aim: the favored dragon motif is combined with an updated iteration of the celebrated celadon glaze, on a form new to the Chinese potters' repertoire.
The form of this vase is a variation of the ‘three-string vase’ (sanxuanzun), which comprises one of the eight prescribed peachbloom vessels. Vases of this form and design are likely to have been produced when the artist Liu Yuan (c. 1638-c. 1685) was designing for the imperial kilns. In his research on Qing imperial porcelain, Peter Y.K. Lam has highlighted the importance of this artist for porcelain decoration of the Kangxi period, and has shown that the image of a dragon emerging from clouds or waves, as seen on the present vase, was a distinctive Liu Yuan design. Furthermore, Lam has convincingly argued that the various wares with peachbloom glazes were created during this period early in the Kangxi reign. One of the few distinctive shapes produced with a peachbloom glaze is this sanxianping (‘three-string’) or laifuping (‘radish’) vase form, which was an innovation of the time.
Closely related examples include two vases in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Gugong Bowuyuan cang Qingdai yuyao ciqi [Qing porcelains from the Imperial kilns preserved in the Palace Museum], Beijing, 2005, vol. I, book 1, pls 112 and 113; one in the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, published in S.W. Bushell, Oriental Ceramic Art Illustrated by Examples from the Collection of W.T. Walters, London,  1981, col. pl. VII; another, from the Tsui Museum of Art, Hong Kong, sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 3rd November 1996, lot 566; and a fifth example sold in these rooms, 16th-17th September 2014, lot 156. See also a vase of this type, from the Widener Collection in the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., illustrated in Virginia Bower, The Collections of the National Gallery of Art. Systematic Catalogue: Decorative Arts, pt. II, Washington D.C., 1998, p. 102 (center), where it is noted that the ‘slight differences in the modeling of the appliqued dragons suggest that the dragons were individually sculpted and not molded’ (p. 103).
See also a similar vase, from the collection of Mrs. William H. Moore in the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, included in the exhibition The Communion of Scholars. Chinese Art at Yale, China House Gallery, China Institute in America, New York, 1982, cat. no. 35; one (mistakenly identified as having a ‘clair-de-lune’ glaze) illustrated in René-Yvon Lefebvre d’Argencé, Chinese Ceramics in the Avery Brundage Collection, San Francisco, 1967, pl. LXIV C; and another sold in our Hong Kong rooms 23rd October 2005, lot 368, and again at Christie’s Hong Kong, 29th May 2009, lot 1819.
Vases of this type were also produced with the dragon depicted in copper red on a white ground leaping from carved waves; see one in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, from the collection of Mary Clark Thompson, illustrated in Oriental Ceramics. The World’s Great Collections, vol. 11, Tokyo, 1982, pl. 118, together with a Yongzheng version of this design, where the waves and scrolling clouds are not carved but also painted in copper red, col. pl. 30, from the Friedsam Collection.
For peachbloom-glazed Kangxi mark and period vases of this type, see an example in the Palace Museum, Beijing, published in Kangxi. Yongzheng. Qianlong. Qing Porcelain from the Palace Museum Collection, Hong Kong, 1989, p. 137, pl. 120; and another, from the Meiyintang Collection, illustrated as part of a complete group of eight peachbloom wares for the scholar’s desk, in Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, London, 1994-2010, vol. 4, p. 328.
北京故宮博物院收藏兩相類瓶例，圖載於《故宮博物院藏清代御窯瓷器》，北京，2005年，卷1，第1冊，圖版112及113；另比一例，巴爾的摩沃爾特藝術博物館收藏，載於S.W. Bushell，《Oriental Ceramic Art Illustrated by Examples from the Collection of W.T. Walters》，倫敦，[1896年] 1981年，彩色圖版VII；再比一例，出自香港徐氏博物館，售於香港佳士得1996年11月3日，編號566；尚有一例，售於紐約蘇富比2014年9月16至17日，編號156。另比一例，器型相近，出自Widener 收藏，現存於華盛頓國家美術館，圖載於 Virginia Bower，《The Collections of the National Gallery of Art. Systematic Catalogue: Decorative Arts》，部II，華盛頓，1998年，頁102（中），文章論述「龍紋造型稍異，顯示此紋乃個別塑形而非模印」（頁103）。
另可比較一相類例，出自紐黑文耶魯大學藝廊 William H. Moore 夫人收藏，曾展於《The Communion of Scholars. Chinese Art at Yale》，華美協進社美術館，紐約，1982年，編號35；另比一例（誤認為天藍釉），圖載於René-Yvon Lefebvre d'Argencé，《Chinese Ceramics in the Avery Brundage Collection》，舊金山， 1967年，圖版LXIV C；再比一例，售於香港蘇富比2005年10月23日，編號 368；後易手於香港佳士得2009年5月29日，編號1819。
此器形亦見暗刻海水釉裏紅龍紋例，如見紐約大都會藝術博物館收藏一例，出自 Mary Clark Thompson 收藏，載於《Oriental Ceramics. The World's Great Collections》，卷11，東京，1982年，圖版118，同書並載一雍正例，水波紋及雲紋以釉裏紅繪製而非刻製，圖版30，出自 Friedsam收藏。