Celestial Colors. The Cadle Family Collection of Chinese Monochromes

Celestial Colors. The Cadle Family Collection of Chinese Monochromes

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 11. An extremely rare and large sacrificial-blue-glazed garlic-mouth vase, Seal mark and period of Yongzheng | 清雍正 祭藍釉大蒜頭瓶 《雍正年製》款.

An extremely rare and large sacrificial-blue-glazed garlic-mouth vase, Seal mark and period of Yongzheng | 清雍正 祭藍釉大蒜頭瓶 《雍正年製》款

Auction Closed

March 21, 02:11 PM GMT


400,000 - 600,000 USD

Lot Details


An extremely rare and large sacrificial-blue-glazed garlic-mouth vase

Seal mark and period of Yongzheng

清雍正 祭藍釉大蒜頭瓶 《雍正年製》款

the base with a four-character seal mark in underglaze blue

Height 17 in., 43.2 cm 

Collection of Ralph Thrall King (1855-1926).

Collection of Brigadier General Woods King (1900-1947).

J.J. Lally & Co., New York.

Ralph Thrall King (1855-1926) 收藏

Woods King准將 (1900-1947) 收藏


Gracefully proportioned and covered in a brilliantly intense blue glaze, the present vessel is remarkable for its slender, sinuous silhouette, considerable size and vibrant hue. As with many Yongzheng period monochrome wares, this piece displays the prevailing interest in archaism, evident in its shape. 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 bulb, was popular in the Ming and Qing dynasties. Generally, imperial porcelain vases during the Qing period were manufactured for decorative purposes or as flower vases. Suantouping, with their typical narrow mouth, were suited to hold one flower or a single fruiting branch. The origin of the 'garlic-mouth' as a decorative element is uncertain, but the porcelain examples are modeled after the archaic bronze hu wine vessel with a mouth distinctively formed of garlic cloves, see Jenny So, Eastern Zhou Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, New York, 1995, pl. 52, where the hu is attributed to the late Warring States period, 4th-3rd century BC. A fresh aesthetic suited to contemporary tastes has been achieved through the minimalist blue glaze, which also serves to highlight the elegance of the updated form while still paying homage to the past. 

The rich jewel-like sapphire-blue glaze seen on the present vase is referred to as 'sacrificial blue'. This name derives from the use of vessels bearing this glaze color during sacrifices at the Imperial Altar of Heaven. As outlined in the exhibition catalogue Blessings and Guidance. The Qianlong Emperor's Design for State Sacrificial Vessels, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2019, p. 27, the Altar of Heaven was linked with the deep blue color of the sky and in 1369, the Hongwu Emperor (r. 1368-1398) issued an edict declaring that vessels on the imperial altars should henceforth be made of porcelain.

The form of this vase is extremely rare, and no other blue-glazed example of this size appears to be recorded. However, other Yongzheng 'sacrificial blue' vessels of comparable size include an ovoid vase (38.4cm high) first sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 9th November 1982, lot 267, and more recently at Christie's Hong Kong, 26th November 2014, lot 3371; an olive-shaped ganlanping from the Gordon Collection (41.3cm) first sold in these rooms, 21st November 1974, lot 324 and subsequently at Christie's New York, 24th March 2011, lot 2516; and a yuhuchunping (36cm) sold at Bonhams London, 6th November 2014, lot 202.

Garlic-mouth vases are more commonly found from the Qianlong period (1735-1796). Compare a smaller example with a more bulbous mouth in the Qing Court Collection, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Monochrome Porcelain, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 166, and another offered in our Hong Kong rooms, 21st May 1982, lot 752.

Ralph Thrall King was a prominent businessman and President of Realty Investment Co., the largest holder of real estate in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, in the early 20th century. Born in 1855 in Monroe County, New York, King graduated from Brown University in 1878 and in his lifetime built a substantial personal art collection, primarily focused on prints and works by James McNeill Whistler. A strong supporter of the Cleveland Museum of Art, he created the Museum's Prints Department where he served voluntarily as curator from 1919 to 1921. Together with his wife, Fanny Tewksbury King of Lexington, Michigan, he donated some 870 works to the museum and was recognized as an important early contributor and founder of the Oriental Art Department.

His son Woods King inherited his passion for real estate, and was also a World War II hero, promoted to brigadier general in 1945. In 1944, King was sent to China to advise and train troops there. He was twice awarded the Legion of Merit for his liaison work in the Chinese theater.

此瓶尺寸頗大,器形修長優雅,比例勻稱秀美,藍釉色澤鮮亮明豔。如同許多雍正朝燒造的單色釉器,本品造型蘊含摹古韻味。蒜頭瓶近口沿處圓鼓如蒜,屬歷代官瓷造型中較為突出者,盛行於明清二代。清代御窰所造瓷瓶多為陳設器或花器,蒜頭瓶口多微斂,適合插飾單枝花卉或繁果枝條。瓶口蒜頭造型來源未明,但此形應取材高古青銅壺,其壺口亦類同蒜頭形,見蘇芳淑,《Eastern Zhou Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections》,紐約,1995年,編號52,青銅壺斷代公元前四至三世紀的戰國晚期。此瓶以古器為基礎,然瓶身罩施藍釉,素淨無紋,更顯優雅,迎合當朝美學。




Ralph Thrall King是著名商人,也是二十世紀初俄亥俄州克里夫蘭市中心最大的房地產投資公司Realty Investment Co.的主席。他於1855年生於紐約州門羅縣,1878年畢業於布朗大學。他一生收藏甚豐,藏品集中為版畫及詹姆斯•惠斯勒的畫作。他熱心支持克里夫蘭藝術博物館運作,在館內增設版畫部,並於1919至1921年間自願擔任版畫部策展人。他與來自密西根州萊克辛頓的太太Fanny Tewksbury King將約870件藝術品捐贈予克里夫蘭藝術博物館,是該館東方藝術部的創建者兼重要的早期捐贈人。

其子Woods King繼承父親對房地產事業的熱誠,亦是二戰英雄,1945年晉升為准將。他曾於1944年被派往中國指導和訓練軍隊。因其就中國戰區方面進行的聯絡工作,他兩度獲頒發功績勛章。