A rare and large ge-type lobed oval moonflask, bianhu, Yongzheng seal mark and of the period. Sold for £62,500 (€79,780). Photo: Bonhams.
The heavy vase with a flattened lobed body rising from a lobed foot, the gently flaring neck also lobed and flanked by thick scroll handles, all covered in a thick glaze of even greyish-green tone with an attractive dark grey wire-like crackle. 51.5cm (20 1/4in) high
Provenance: Michael and Betty Pinney, Bettiscombe Manor, Dorset; according to the family acquired in the 1930s in Oxford and thence by descent.
Notes: The vase was housed in the family’s stately home, Bettiscombe Manor, Dorset, from the 1930s to 1984, when the manor was sold. Bettiscombe Manor belonged to the Pinney family, who first came to Bettiscombe as bailiffs for the Lord of the Manor in the 16th century. The family’s fortune was founded on West Indian sugar plantations which remained in the family’s ownership until the emancipation of slaves.
The present vase combines innovation and archaism, greatly inspired in its glaze from the subtle Imperial Southern Song dynasty ge glaze, yet reinterpreting it in this impressive lobed moonflask form drawing on the Ming dynasty, thus reflecting the trend of innovation within tradition, which took place during the Yongzheng reign and continued in the Qianlong reign. As noted by R.Krahl in E.R.Rawski and J.Rawson, eds., China: The Three Emperors 1662-1795, London, 2005, p.245: ‘The signature works of the Yongzheng period, however, are those whose deceptive simplicity made the greatest demands on the potters’ aesthetic conception and technical ability. The Yongzheng Emperor’s fascination with antiquity, his collecting of antiques and the resulting passion for archaism on the one hand, and his personal taste, demand for quality, and engagement of contemporary craftsmen on the other, gave Qing art its identity and shaped our idea of Chinese art in general.’ Undoubtedly the present vase encapsulates these aspects with its subtle archaic-inspired glaze, yet technically demanding form and monumental size produced in the Imperial kilns in Jingdezhen.
The fascination with Song dynasty glazes and Han, Song and Ming dynasty forms is illustrated by the Ru, Ge and Jun type glazes found beautifully adorning vases from the Yongzheng period in the National Palace Museum, Taipei: seeHarmony and Integrity: The Yongzheng Emperor and His Times, Taipei, 2009, pls.II-27, 30, 48, 49, 51-57.
Compare a related Ge-type lobed moonflask, Yongzheng mark and of the period, sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong on 8 April 2011, lot 3017. A related octagonal Guanyao-type moonflask, Yongzheng seal mark and of the period, also from the collection of Michael and Betty Pinney, was sold in these Rooms on 17 May 2012, lot 303.
Bonhams. FINE CHINESE ART, 6 Nov 2014 13:30 GMT – LONDON, NEW BOND STREET