F ollowing on from the success of Part I in New York in March and the record-breaking first Hong Kong chapter in April, the carefully curated sale presents six masterpieces from the 18th century showcasing the unparalleled technical mastery of the imperial kilns and workshops.
- Yangcai 洋彩
Reticulated yangcai vases represent one of the last great innovations developed by Tang Ying (1682-1756), the imperial kilns’ creative supervisor. They are a tangible testament to the unprecedented and unparalleled culmination of technical virtuosity in porcelain production between 1741 and 1743, fuelled by an imperial reprimand from the Qianlong Emperor.
- Interlocking 交泰
To create porcelain pieces with moveable and interlocking parts in porcelain and to fire them repeatedly at different temperatures, first for the porcelain itself, where it shrinks, and then again for the various colours, was a challenge never attempted before.
- Revolving 轉旋
This type of revolving vase is composed of four sections: an inner vase, which is connected to the overhanging collar, and two detached parts for upper and lower sections of the outer walls. The inner vase is painted – like on the present piece – with underglaze-blue lotus.
- Trigrams 八卦
Qian and kun together signifies heaven and earth. For the Qianlong Emperor, such symbols of a harmonious universe must have felt like a gratifying comment on his own rule.
☰ qian - heaven 乾為天 ☵ kan - water 坎為水 ☶ gen - mountain 艮為山
zhen - thunder 震為雷 ☴ xun - wind 巽為風 ☲ li - fire 離為火 ☷ kun - earth 坤為地 ☱ dui - lake 兑為澤
It would be hard to find a porcelain vessel that can better embody the artistry and aesthetics fostered by the Qianlong Emperor and the peak of craftsmanship at the imperial kilns in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province. In its outstanding technical intricacy, combining reticulated, interlocking and revolving features, its auspicious design with Chinese symbolism and Western baroque features, and its rich and superbly balanced colour scheme and brocade-style ground, this ceramic work of art is of a sophistication that has never been surpassed. Even this most demanding of patrons, the connoisseur Qianlong Emperor (r. 1736-95), who was hard to please, could not have wished for more. Court archives show that this vase must have been made either in 1743 or immediately thereafter, at a period when the Emperor was in his prime and the imperial manufactories achieved their greatest triumphs.
- Prunus 梅花
- Peach Blossom 桃花
- Magnolia 玉蘭
- Camellia 茶花
- Lily 百合
- Mallow 蜀葵
- Pomegranate 石榴花
- Morning Glory 牽牛花
- Poppy 虞美人
- Chrysanthemum 菊花
- Peony 牡丹
- Rose 月桂
- Hibiscus 朱槿
This majestic, superbly enamelled pair of vases, with its sumptuous depiction of butterflies and flowers in radiant colours on a rarely used bright pink ground, is archetypical of yangcai porcelains that were produced for a very short period by the imperial kilns at Jingdezhen for the Qianlong Emperor. They are characterized by the phenomenal opulence of their decoration as well as the rich spectrum of their enamels and were amongst the most prized types of porcelain at the Qing court. Yangcai vases were made in very small quantities altogether and of each design, usually only a single piece or a pair was made. It is exceedingly rare to find a matching pair of such vases to have survived and to remain united outside the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei, and the present pieces are among the largest specimens preserved.