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A rare documentary underglaze-blue and copper-red-decorated celadon-ground vase, Yongzheng period, dated 1731. Estimate $40,000 – $60,000. Photo Christie’s Image Ltd 2015

The tall vase, with high, sloping shoulders and a short neck with flaring mouth, is carved and painted with a continuous river landscape scene including equestrians, sages conversing on rocky promontories and crossing a bridge, and a solitary figure in a boat. The neck bears a long inscription referring to Yueguogong Li (‘Temple for worshiping Yueguogong´) located in Huanglong Kou, followed by the name Sun Daji of Qing, and the date, the ninth month of the ninth year of the Yongzheng reign, corresponding to 1731. 17 in. (43.2) high. Lot 3592 – Price Realized $56,250

Provenance: S. Marchant & Son, Ltd., London, 1985.
Collection of Julia and John Curtis.

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Notes: The combination of celadon green with underglaze cobalt blue and underglaze copper red is relatively rare, no doubt because it was so difficult to fire successfully. With the coming of the Kangxi reign came renewed imperial interest in porcelain and a demand for high quality and variety. In the early years of the reign the potters revived the combination of underglaze blue and underglaze copper red on single pieces, and with the re-establishment of the imperial kiln complex court demand for innovation resulted in molded and carved surface decoration and the use of areas of celadon green being added to this already challenging palette. The current vase is a rare example from the Yongzheng period.

The favored decorative theme in this technique is landscape with trees, mountains, water and molded and carved celadon-green rocks. An example of this technique from the Kangxi period can be found on a trumpet-mouth vase in the Seikado Bunko, Tokyo, illustrated in Sekai toji zenshu, Tokyo, 1983, vol. 15, Qing, p. 146, no. 138.

CHRISTIE’S. AN ERA OF INSPIRATION: 17TH-CENTURY CHINESE PORCELAINS FROM THE COLLECTION OF JULIA AND JOHN CURTIS, 16 March 2015,New York, Rockefeller Plaza

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