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A very large blue and white five-piece garniture, Kangxi periodEstimate $40,000 – $60,000. Photo Christie’s Image Ltd 2015

Comprising two beaker vases and three baluster vases and covers, painted allover in underglaze blue with scrolling vine; 22 in. (55.8 cm.) high

Provenance: With Cohen and Cohen, New York.
The Hodroff Collection, Part III; Christie’s, New York, 21 January 2009, lot 167.

Notes: The five-piece garniture, most often seen in this configuration of three covered vases and two open, had become a classic in Chinese export porcelain by the late 17th century. Referring to the Vung Tao sale held Christie’s Amsterdam, 7-8 April 1992, D.S. Howard writes that « It is clear from examination of this 1695 cargo that the most important part was vases and garnitures » (Choice of the Private Trader, p. 236). Although quickly adopted for fashionable European house decoration and popular until at least 1800, the five-piece garniture actually derives straight from a very Chinese prototype: the altar garniture. Sets of this grand scale were obviously expensive and intended for very grand houses, where they might have stood in the fireplace in summer or on the floor of the hall.

Compare with a massive blue and white Kangxi period five-piece garniture sold Christie’s New York, 23 January 2001, lot 13 and the one sold 20-21 January 2004, lot 314.

Christie’s. MANDARIN & MENAGERIE: THE SOWELL COLLECTION AND CHINESE EXPORT ART FROM VARIOUS OWNERS, 26 January 2015, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

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