A fine and rare ru-type beaker vase, gu, Qianlong seal mark and period. Estimate 100,000 — 200,000 GBP. Photo: Sotheby’s
of archaic bronze form, the central bulbous section supported on a splayed foot with constricted waist, rising to a wide trumpet neck flaring at the rim, the lower and middle sections divided by four vertical flanges, covered overall with an opaque greyish-blue glaze, the unglazed footring dressed in a brown wash, inscribed to the base with a six-character seal mark; 27.2cm., 10 ¾in.
PROPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION
PROVENANCE: Purchased by a European Vice Consul in Shanghai in the early 1940s.
Notes: Deceptively simple in design, vases of this form were produced with or without flanges and come in a variety of related glaze tones, some described as ‘guan’, clair-de-lune, and others as ru. It is a fine example of the technical perfection achieved by craftsmen working at the imperial kilns in Jingdezhen. Monochrome vessels required the highest level of skill and precision in every stage of their production, from the purity of the clay and precision of the potting to the evenness of the glaze and control of the firing. The slightest irregularity would result in the rejection and destruction of the piece, thus pushing the craftsmen to the limits of their abilities, particularly in the production of large vessels such as the present. The subtle glaze has been created in imitation of ru ware, one of the ‘five great wares’ of the Song period (960-1279) along with Ding, ge, guan and Jun. It reflects the Qing emperors’ penchant for these early wares, which they not only collected but also commissioned the imperial kilns to recreate or imitate. Even the unglazed foot has been stained with a dark wash to simulate its predecessors.
A vase of this type, but of slightly smaller size, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, is published in Geng Baochang, ed., Gugong Bowuyuan cang gu taoci ciliao xuancui [Selection of ancient ceramic material from the Palace Museum], vol. 2, Beijing, 2005, pl. 244; a smaller example, illustrated in Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, vol. 4, London, 2010, pl. 1792, was sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 4th April 2012, lot 4; and two pairs were sold in our Hong Kong rooms, one pair, 2nd May 2005, lot 688, and the second pair, from the J.M. Hu collection, 9th October 2012, lot 108. Compare also a vase covered with a teadust glaze, from the Paul and Helen Bernat collection, sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 15th November 1988, lot 72, and twice at Christie’s Hong Kong, 30th April 2001, lot 681, and 27th November 2007, lot 1718; and another with a celadon glaze, from the Hirota collection and now in the Tokyo National Museum, included in the exhibition Hirota Collection, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, 1973, cat. no. 281.
For the Yongzheng prototype, similarly shaped with flanges around the central and lower sections, but of slightly smaller size and with a guan-type glaze, in the Nanjing Museum, was included in the exhibition Qing Imperial Porcelain of the Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong Reigns, Art Gallery, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1995, cat. no. 32.
Sotheby’s. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, Londres | 05 nov. 2014, 10:00 AM