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Sovereign Splendour

 

 

 

Contents
- Introduction
-
Wanli Emperor (1573-1620)
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Kangxi Emperor (1662-1722)
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Yongzheng Emperor (1723-1735)

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Qianlong Emperor (1736-1795)
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Jiaqing Emperor (1796-1820)
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Daoguang Emperor (1821-1850)
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Xianfeng Emperor (1850-1861)
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Tongzhi Emperor (1862-1874)

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Guangxu Emperor (1875-1908)
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Xuantong Emperor (1909-1911)

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Qianlong Emperor (1736-1795)

  

 

 

         

青花缠枝莲花纹双耳三足洗
Double-eared, three-legged brush washer with lotus sprigs in underglaze blue

Period: Qianlong (1736-1795)
Height: 10.7 cm, rim diameter: 11.1 cm

 

 

 

The remarkable shape of this brush washer derives from a Chinese fishing basket (yulouzun). The production of this type, also called ‘flower basket’ (huanang) in Qing records, began under Yongzheng. The rim of the mouth curls outwards. The neck is short. The flattened belly rests on three short legs. On the shoulder two ears have been modelled. The underglaze blue painting on the outside is crowded: a wreath of banana leaves around the neck, clouds spiralling around the neck and shoulder. The main motif of the belly consists of lotus sprigs divided by a double circle in an upper and lower half. The ears have been painted in underglaze blue. The base has the six character mark of Qianlong in three columns of underglaze blue seal script (zhuanshu). 

 

 

 

   

 

青花折枝花果纹瓶
Vase with fruit and blossom sprigs in underglaze blue

Period: Qianlong (1736-1795)
Height: 28.2 cm, rim diameter: 3.9 cm, foot diameter: 9 cm

            

 

 

 

This type of vase is called ‘garlic bulb vase’ because the mouth resembles a garlic bulb. It is an imitation of a type of porcelain from the earliest imperial dynasties: the Qin and Han. Garlic bulb vases in underglaze blue were produced in the imperial kilns under the Ming emperors Jiajing and Wanli. They remained current under the Qing as well. The objects from all these periods show only minor differences. The mouths of some have been decorated with lotus petals or dragon-like mythical animals. The colour of the underglaze blue on this vase is pure, fresh and elegant. The fruit and blossom sprigs have been rendered brightly and fluently. The richly layered leaves and petals show many shades of light and dark. The pictorial style is vividly detailed and highly exquisite. The base has the six character mark of Qianlong in three columns of underglaze blue seal script (zhuanshu). The design of the entire object is elegant, its proportions well-balanced. It is indeed a piece of delicate workmanship.

   

 

 

    
                

 青花八仙图笔插
Brush stand with eight immortals in underglaze blue

Period: Qianlong (1736-1795)
Height: 6.6 cm, width: 14.7 cm, depth: 9.8 cm

 

 

 

 

Stands for the disposal of writing brushes come in all different shapes and styles. This brush stand in underglaze blue is a hollow parallelepiped with five round openings and one rectangular opening on top. The spaces between the openings are decorated with auspicious clouds in the shape of the classical Chinese character 壬. The four sides have been painted with the ‘Eight Immortals’: eight deities from the Chinese daoist fairy World. They are: Li with the Iron Rod, Zhongli Quan, Lü Dongbin, Zhang Guolao, Cao Guojiu, Han Xiangzi, Lan Caihe and the Immortal Damsel He. They often figure in such porcelain decors as the Eight Immortals crossing the Sea, the Eight Immortals offering birthday wishes, etcetera. On each side of this stand a different scene with two recognizable immortals is shown. The figures have been painted vividly and with individually different traits. The base has the six character mark of Qianlong in three columns of underglaze blue seal script (zhuanshu).

 

 

 

    

青花青花福寿纹贯耳方瓶
Rectangular vase with tubular ears and ‘happiness’ and ‘longevity’ in underglaze blue

Period: Qianlong (1736-1795)
Height: 30.3 cm, opening: 8.7 x 11 cm, foot: 8.5 x 11.7 cm

 


      
 

 

Vases with tubular ears are replicas of the touhu of the Han era: a type of pot used in a drinking game. These vases were current under the Song and also reproduced in the kilns at Jingdezhen under the Qing. Most characteristic were the two straight vertical tubular ears applied to both sides of the neck. The model is as stark as it is elegant. This square vase has a crowded decoration in underglaze blue. The heart-shaped medallions on the front and back are filled with bats (fu) and peaches of longevity (shoutao), a pun on the traditional wish for ‘happiness and a long life’ (fushou). Around the medallions as well as on both sides of the vase, twined lotus scrolls have been painted with the character for ‘longevity’ (shou) in the heart of the flowers. The collar, neck, ears and foot ring of the vase have been separately painted with curling weeds, ruyi clouds and twined blossom sprigs. The colour of the underglaze blue is saturated, the decor rich and clearly layered. The base has the six character mark of Qianlong in three rows of underglaze blue seal script (zhuanshu).

 

 

 

      

 

        

青花缠枝莲龙纹瓶
Vase with dragons between twined lotus scrolls in underglaze blue

Period: Qianlong (1736-1795)
Height: 60.4 cm, rim diameter: 11.9 cm, foot diameter: 18 cm

 

 

This type of vase is called ‘celestial globe vase’ (tianqiuping). It shows influences from West Asian civilizations and was popular under the Ming emperors Yongle and Xuande. Its main characteristics are the straight neck, the spherical belly and the flat base. Under the Qing emperor Kangxi, imitations of celestial globe vases of the early Ming era appeared. They became even more current under Yongzheng and Qianlong. The model of this vase is rather large, plump and stately. On the belly two walking five-clawed dragons have been painted in underglaze blue. One has its head raised forward, the other is looking back. Both are exposing their teeth and spreading their claws in a gesture that is as imposing as it is aggressive. Each part of their scales and whiskers has been drawn carefully and meticulously. The dragons are surrounded by twined lotus scrolls. The rim has been decorated with sea waves and ruyi clouds, the transition from the belly to the foot with lotus petals. The base has the six character mark of Qianlong in three columns of underglaze blue seal script (zhuanshu). The colour of the underglaze blue is concentrated, pure and brilliant. This is an excellent piece of workmanship from Qianlong’s imperial kilns.

 

   

 

      

釉里红缠枝莲纹葫芦瓶
Gourd vase with twined lotus scrolls in underglaze red

Period: Qianlong (1736-1795)
Height: 31.1 cm, rim diameter: 3.9 cm, foot diameter: 9.4 cm
                                   
 

 

 

             
 

 

Red copper pigments lend their colour to the underglaze red, a type of glaze fired to reduction at high temperature. In Jingdezhen, the production of underglaze red started under the Yuan, but due to the high degree of difficulty of the firing process, mature products only appeared at the time of the Ming emperor Xuande. Their production dwindled afterwards to be revived under the Qing emperor Kangxi. His underglaze reds are stable with subtle shades. Under Yongzheng a new milestone was achieved. The development of underglaze red continued under Qianlong with fresh hues and a rich stratification. This gourd vase in underglaze red is a classic product from Qianlong’s imperial kilns. The red is soft and stable, the Lines of the drawings are clear; the light and dark shades are subtle. The decoration of the double belly shows twined lotus scrolls. It is dense but not too crowded. The base has the six character mark of Qianlong in three columns of underglaze blue seal script (zhuanshu). The shape of the vase is stately and restrained, without any concessions to its elegance. It is indeed a highlight. In Chinese, the word ‘gourd’ (hulu) in the name of this type of vase remotely sounds like ‘happiness and prosperity’ (fu lu). Vases in the shape of gourds have been popular in wide circles of society. Under Kangxi it was also an important export product.

 

 

 

 

  


                                           
 

  

   

粉彩百鹿纹螭耳瓶
Vase with ears in the shape of hornless dragons and a hundred deer in
fencai

Period: Qianlong (1736-1795)
Height: 43.5 cm, rim diameter: 16.2 cm, foot diameter: 24.6 cm

 

 

 

For this type of vase, several Chinese names exist: ‘hundred deer vase’ (bailuzun), ‘deer head vase’ (lutouzun), or ‘ox head vase’ (niutouzun). The shape indeed reminds some of an inverted deer head or ox head. It first appeared in the days of the Qing emperor Kangxi. Production peaked under Qianlong. This type of vase comes in fencai, underglaze blue and other glaze techniques. In Chinese, ‘a hundred deer’ sounds like the popular wish for ‘boundless prosperity’ (bai lu). Objects in fencai were often painted with green landscapes and groups of deer, objects in underglaze blue (qing) with twined lotus scrolls (lian). In Chinese, the combination sounds like qinglian (‘honest’). This hundred deer vase has been painted in fencai with a forest full of deer frolicking between green pines and cypresses, cragged rocks and flowing creeks. The ears on both sides of the vase are shaped like hornless dragons (chi). The design is stately and well-balanced, the painting vivid and finely detailed, the colouring as rich as it is harmonious. The base has the six character mark of Qianlong in three columns of underglaze blue seal script (zhuanshu).

 

 

   

      

胭脂红地粉彩缠枝番莲纹堆塑婴戏瓶
Vase with figures of playing children and Indian lotus scrolls in fencai on red

Period: Qianlong (1736-1795)
Height: 31.1 cm, rim diameter: 7.4 cm, foot diameter: 9.5 cm

 

 

      

                                                        

  Fencai (literally: ‘pastel colours’) is a type of overglaze decoration fired at low temperature. It has been produced from the times of the Qing emperor Kangxi. Firstly, the white clay is covered with a layer of glaze and fired at high temperature. Next, a polychromatic painting is applied and fired at less than 700oC. In comparison with wucai, the colours of fencai are softer and more subtly shaded. For this reason, fencai is also known in Chinese as ‘soft colours’ (ruancai). The three-dimensional decoration of this vase is called ‘stacking’ (tuisu) in Chinese. This technique, in which three-dimensional figures modelled by hand or in a mould are stuck onto an object, was rather frequently applied in the imperial kilns under Qianlong. In this way, five climbing children have been stuck against the belly and shoulder of this fencai vase. One of the two bottommost toddlers is standing on the other child’s shoulders. The third child is on his knees in front of the shoulder of the vase, reaching out to his two little friends who want to climb higher. Two further children are standing on both sides of the neck. They have apparently reached the top. They all have different poses and expressions and are full of life, movement and puerile curiosity. The vase has been painted densely with twined flower and herb sprigs and various types of emblems. The colours are soft, harmonious, elegant and exquisite. The base has the six character mark of Qianlong in three columns of seal script (zhuanshu).

 

 

   

    

        

粉彩云龙纹笔管
Brush shaft with dragons in the clouds in
fencai
Period: Qianlong (1736-1795)
Length: 17.1 cm

 

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In ancient China, brushes were the most important writing tools of the literati and one of the four ‘treasures of the writing room’ (wenfang si bao), together with ink, ink slabs and paper. The main  components of a brush are its shaft and its hairs, as a rule of animal provenance. All kinds of materials were used for the shaft: bamboo, wood, jade – or porcelain. The Ming emperor Wanli, for instance, used to commission porcelain brush shafts from the Factory at Jingdezhen. His example was followed in many instances by the Qing emperors. This object in fencai was produced by the imperial kilns under Qianlong. The actual shaft has been painted in wucai with a five-clawed dragon soaring between auspicious clouds. The colours are bright and fresh, the dragon’s pose commands respect. The top of the shaft has the six character mark of Qianlong in three columns of carmine red seal script (zhuanshu)

 

 

 

 

    

粉彩鹌鹑盒
Quail-shaped box in
fencai
Period: Qianlong (1736-1795)
Height with cover: 5.4 cm, opening: 7.9 x 4.9 cm

 
 

 

This is a box for storing all kinds of small objects. Porcelain boxes of all types, sizes and shapes, including round, square or elongated, have been around in China for many centuries. The most remarkable aspect of this fencai-box in the shape of a plump quail is the facetious pose of the animal. The colours are very lifelike and the eyes, beak and each single feather of the bird have also been elaborated down to the finest detail. This is further demonstrated by the two feet applied in relief to the base of the box, which also shows the six character mark of Qianlong in three columns of underglaze blue seal script (zhuanshu). This box is an exquisite piece of fencai of Qianlong’s reign.

 

 

 

   

     
           
           胭脂红地粉彩缠枝八吉祥纹五供
Set of five ritual objects: a censer, candlesticks and two rummer vases decorated with eight Buddhist auspicious emblems between twined sprigs in fencai on red

Period: Qianlong (1736-1795)
Height of censer: 23 cm, rim diameter: 14.6 cm. Height of candlesticks: 23.9 cm, rim diameter: 6.2 cm, foot diameter: 10.4 cm. Height of vases: 24 cm, rim diameter: 13.7 cm, foot diameter: 11.1 cm.

 
 

 

The collective Chinese name for these types of sacrificial utensils is ‘five sacrifices’ (dugong) or ‘set of five utensils’ (wujuzu). They are placed in front of a Buddhist image or on top of an altar. As a rule, a set consists of a censer, a pair of candlesticks and a pair of flower vases in the shape of antique rummers. The censer displayed here imitates an antique type of a bronze sacrificial vessel (ding). It has a straight rim and neck and a spherical belly with an upwardly curved handle on both sides. The lower parts of both handles have rectangular perforations. The base rests on three hoof-shaped legs. The side of the rim has the six character mark of Qianlong in one line of red seal script (zhuanshu) inside a golden border. The candlesticks have narrow mouths and long necks. Underneath the neck, they have a round dish and a small flattened spherical belly resting on a bell-shaped foot with a foot ring. The outer rim of the dish has the six character mark of Qianlong in one line of red seal script (zhuanshu). The mouth of the vases is shaped like a shawm (laba). Underneath a long neck they also have a small flattened spherical belly resting on a bell-shaped foot with a foot ring which is different from the usual shawm-shaped foot ring of this type. The lower border of the neck has the six character mark of Qianlong in one line of red seal script (zhuanshu) inside a golden border. The glazes on all these utensils are exquisitely decorated in fencai on a rouge ground with twined lotus scrolls alternating with the eight Buddhist auspicious emblems (astamangala). All these elements are closely related to Buddhism, the lotus being considered the Buddha’s sacred flower and the eight auspicious emblems directly referring to Buddhist teachings. The insides of both the candlesticks and the vases (but not the censer) as well as the insides of their foots are covered with turquoise glaze. The entire design is regular, the composition is sophisticated and the colours are a feast for the eye. The painting has been done with impressive fluency and detail. As the imperial house of Qing had a proclivity for Buddhism, the Jingdezhen Factory produced many Buddhist ritual objects for them. This set indeed literally radiates devotion. The Accounts of the Imperial Household under the Qing (Qinggong Neiwufu zhiban chuhuo jidang) contain regular production orders for these sets. Emperor Qianlong sometimes gave direct orders to the Factory to improve these products in his own taste. The Accounts for the fifth lunar month of 1744 record under ‘Jiangxi’: ‘On the fourth of this month, the warehouse manager Bai Shixiu and his aide received for sacrificial sets, produced for Tang Ying in underglaze blue and white. They have been submitted to chief inspector Hu Shijie for inspection. The verdict was that the vases of these sets looked vulgar, that the style of the marks was improper and that the marks needed to be corrected when new sets were to be produced.’ The same record also says: ‘On the twenty-sixth day, the warehouse manager Bai Shixiu and his aide and the chief commissioner of the seventh grade Samuha submitted two vases of sacrificial sets produced for Tang Ying to the chief inspectors Zhang Yu and Hu Shijie for inspection. The verdict was that the mouths, bellies and feet of the vases were too small. The vases of the three sets produced earlier had somewhat larger mouths, bellies and feet.’ Porcelain sacrificial sets were especially appreciated under Qianlong, Jiaqing and Daoguang. Apart from this set in fencai on rouge, there were many in underglaze blue, fencai on yellow, and other varieties. In the course of time, many parts of these sets have become scattered. As complete porcelain sacrificial sets are considered quite rare, this set from Qianlong’s imperial kilns is an absolute highlight.

      

 

 

 

 


      

绿地粉彩八吉祥纹瓶
Vase with eight Buddhist auspicious emblems in fencai on turquoise

Period: Qianlong (1736-1795)
Height: 24.9 cm, rim diameter: 3.1 cm, foot diameter: 9.9 cm

 

 

Mouth shaped like a water jar. Neck long and tapering, decorated with chrysanthemum petals. Belly spherical, foot tall and spreading. The ground of the glaze, including that of the inside and base, is mostly turquoise, fired at low temperature. The mouth has been painted with a pattern of twined sprigs and pink lotuses, the belly with a pattern of twined sprigs alternating with the eight Buddhist auspicious emblems (astaratna or ‘eight treasures’). The lower part of the round foot is decorated with two layers of lotus petals, the neck with three groups of alternatingly red, yellow, purple and blue lotus petals. The base has the six character mark of Qianlong in three columns of red seal script (zhuanshu). This model is called bumba vase after a type of ritual metal ewers used in monasteries and temples in the Tibetan region. They were used in the designation and succession of ‘living Buddhas and prodigies’: Dalai Lamas and Panchen Lamas. A golden bumba was used in the so-called ‘lucky draw with the golden vase’. Rather large numbers of porcelain bumba vases were produced under Qianlong and Jiaqing, mostly for use in imperial monasteries and temples or as a gift to monasteries or temples in Tibet. Under the Qing, many ritual objects in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition like this vase were produced at the imperial Factory. They stand witness to the intimate ties between the Qing court and this Tibetan Buddhism as well as to their mutual historical influences: a sort of cultural osmosis between the Chinese and the Tibetan world.                  

 

 

             

 

 

白地墨彩篆书四足笔筒
Brush beaker on four legs with text in black seal script on white glaze
                           
Period: Qianlong (1736-1795)
Height: 9.6 cm, rim diameter: 7.1 cm, base diameter: 7 cm

 

 

 

 

           

 

 

 

Bucket-shaped beaker with straight rim. The flat base rests on four legs. Inside and outside covered with a brilliant smooth and shiny white glaze. The outside has a text titled On inner uprightness in black seal script (zhuanshu). The concluding colophon reads: ‘Dedicated by the Emperor in [1737]’, followed by two square seals: the texts ‘excellence’ (weijing) in white seal script (zhuanshu) on a vermilion ground and ‘dedication’ (weiyi) in vermilion seal script on a white ground. Seals with these texts, or a combination of them, are very frequent on Qianlong’s imperial wares. The base of this beaker also has the six character mark of Qianlong in three columns of red seal script. The text: ‘The superior man (thus represented), by his self-reverence maintains the inward (correctness), and in righteousness adjusts his external acts’ (from the Book of Changes) refers to the principle of the ruler’s personal virtue. Qianlong wrote this essay prior to his access to the throne. It was included in the 1737 edition of his Collected Works from the Hall of Bliss and Virtue (Leshantang quanji).

 

 

 

                       

 

斗彩缠枝莲纹竹节耳瓶
Vase with two bamboo-shaped tubular ears and lotus scrolls in
doucai
Period: Qianlong (1736-1795)
Height: 44 cm, rim diameter: 16.97 cm, belly diameter: 28.3 cm, foot diameter: 17.6 cm
Donation of Wu Zhongyi

 

   

 

Mouth slightly spreading, neck waisted, shoulder geniculate, belly constricted downwards, foot ring spreading. The neck has two tubular ears in the shape of a bamboo segment. The design is robust, the clay heavy and thick. The decoration of the entire object is rich and complex. It has nine layers, from the top downwards: (1) a geometrical pattern, (2) ruyi clouds, (3) twined lotus scrolls with a bat on the front and the back, (4) twined lotus scrolls, (5) the eight treasures (astaratna) alternating with twined flowering lotus scrolls, (6) ruyi clouds, (7) twined lotus scrolls, (8) lotus petals alternating with ruyi clouds and (9) curly weeds. Both tubular ears are adorned with gilt bamboo leaves. The base has the six character mark of Qianlong in three columns of underglaze blue seal script (zhuanshu). The doucai of Qianlong is generally characterized by the frequent application of symmetrical shapes in the painted composition. The workmanship is exquisite, the images highly stylized, the colouring fresh and rich, beautiful and precious.  

 

 

 

        

斗彩云龙纹盖罐
Covered jar with dragons in the clouds in
doucai
Period: Qianlong (1736-1795)
Height with cover: 21.5 cm, rim diameter: 6.5 cm, foot diameter: 8.2 cm


   

        

 

 

Straight rim, sloping shoulder. The spherical belly is gradually constricted downwards. The concave base is surrounded by a foot ring. The matching cover has a flat top, painted with a dragon grabbing a pearl. The rim of the cover is painted with ruyi clouds, the shoulder of the pot with the ‘eight treasures’ (astaratna), the transition between the shoulder and the belly with a wreath of ruyi clouds. The main motif of the belly consists of two five-clawed dragons toying with a pearl. The base of the belly is trimmed with lotus petals. The base has the six character mark of Qianlong in three columns of underglaze blue seal script (zhuanshu). The doucai technique was only developed under the Ming. It is a combination of underglaze pigment with underglaze decoration. First a line drawing is made in underglaze blue, which is then filled in with different colours prior to the final firing. The underglaze blue on this jar has only been coloured in with green pigment in a flat, traditional painting style. Although the green is hardly layered at all, the decoration has a strong expressive quality.

 

 

 

      

          

              

斗彩团花纹盖罐
Covered jar with flower medallions in
doucai
Period: Qianlong (1736-1795)
Height with cover: 12.2 cm, rim diameter: 5.8 cm, foot diameter: 6.7 cm

 

 

This exquisitely made jar has been entirely decorated in doucai. Its shape approaches that of the object described above, yet the colours are much richer. The top of the cover has been painted with a chrysanthemum medallion, the edge of the cover with four groups of cut flowers. The shoulder and the lower part of the belly have also been painted with flower motifs. The main motif of the belly consists of chrysanthemum medallions alternating with cut flower motifs. Each medallion has one yellow and one red flower, creating a remarkable contrast of colours. The doucai is fine and precise with beautifully fresh colours. The concave base has the six character mark of Qianlong in three columns of underglaze blue seal script (zhuanshu). This covered jar of the Qianlong era is an antique imitation from the Jingdezhen Factory. The decor recalls the doucai of the days of the Ming emperor Chenghua.

 

 

 

    

斗彩双凤八吉祥纹大盘
Dish with phoenixes and eight Buddhist auspicious emblems in
doucai
Period: Qianlong (1736-1795)
Height: 7.9 cm, rim diameter: 51 cm, foot diameter: 31 cm

           

 

 

Spreading mouth, shallow belly, broad foot ring. The entire object is covered with white glaze, decorated in doucai. The central couple of phoenixes is surrounded by a wreath of laced sprigs with yellow, red, purple and blue flowers. Outside this wreath one sees, clockwise: a wheel, a mystical knot, two fish, a stoup, a lotus flower, a canopy or banner, a sunshade and a conch. Floating between these eight Buddhist auspicious emblems (astamangala) are auspicious clouds in five colours. The inside of the rim is painted with eight ‘miscellaneous auspicious symbols’ (zabao), including a boomerang-shaped stone bell (qing), a rhinoceros horn, a red coral, castanets, a silver ingot, a pearl and two coins on a ground of green sea waves. The outside has been painted with laced lotus scrolls. The base shows the six character mark of Qianlong in three columns of underglaze blue seal script (zhuanshu). With its overwhelming richness, this object is a display of great workmanship. The quality of the bright white body is fine. The entire painted composition is full but not crowded, the colouring elegant and beautiful: all very characteristic of the imperial wares of the Qianlong era.  

 

   

 

        
         

 

古铜彩花觚
Rummer vase with antique bronze glaze

Period: Qianlong (1736-1795)
Height: 24.2 cm, rim diameter: 18.1 cm, foot diameter: 7.4 cm

 

 

Shawm-shaped mouth, long neck, spherical belly, spreading foot, foot ring. The entire vase is covered with a ground of tea dust glaze, decorated in painted relief: banana leaves on the neck and foot, and animal heads on the belly. The base has the six character mark of Qianlong in three columns of gilt (yet badly flaked) seal script (zhuanshu). The model of this vase derives from bronze rummers of the Shang and Zhou eras. Porcelain rummer vases were already common under the Song. They were produced under all following dynasties: Yuan, Ming and Qing, as imitations of the traditional ceramic genres of ancient China, albeit with a different function: they mainly served as showpieces. The name ‘antique bronze glaze’ (gutongcai) refers to the colour of antique bronze vessels as it was imitated with extreme sophistication under Qianlong. On a ground of capucine or tea dust glaze, red, green, black, blue or butter yellow pigments were fired at low temperature to create the speckled patina of a bronze object. Sometimes gilt was added to approach even more closely the dazzling splendor, colouring and expression of the original bronze.

 

 

 

       粉青釉六棱水仙盆
Hexagonal flower bulb dish (jardinière) with pale green glaze

Period: Qianlong (1736-1795)
Height: 6.7 cm, rim diameter: 17.1 x 27.8 cm, foot diameter: 11.5 x 20.7 cm

               

           

 

 
The main shape of this dish: an elongated hexagon, is symmetrical in all direction. The rim is cut straight and spreads outward over the tapering sides. The flat base rests on six legs. The entire object, including the base, is covered with a pale green glaze without any decoration which might distract attention from the pure shape and the soft and elegant hue of the glaze. The shape of this exquisite piece is regular and stately, the surface of the glaze has a smooth and moist appearance. The base has the six character mark of Qianlong in three columns of underglaze blue seal script (zhuanshu). This type of pale green glaze is a very prominent product of the Chinese ceramic tradition. It has been applied on masterpieces of all dynasties and emperors. The firing technique has developed continuously. It reached its highest level of perfection under Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong, when such hues as pastel blue, clair de lune, bean green and winter green were produced with unprecedented technical mastery.

 

 

   

      

仿汝釉瓜楞形瓶
Melon-shaped vase with imitation celadon glaze (fangru)

Period: Qianlong (1736-1795)
Height: 21.5 cm, rim diameter: 18.8 cm, foot diameter: 8.2 cm

 
          

 

  Flat mouth, long neck with two convex horizontal rings, octagonal flattened belly with a convex horizontal ring and eight convex vertical bow strings from the neck to the foot, octagonal foot ring. The bow strings divide the neck and the belly in eight melon-like lobes. The shape of the object is sober and stately, the clay is thick and heavy. The surface of the abundantly layered glaze is covered with fine cracks. The foot is short, flat and rather broad. The base of the foot ring has a dark brown imitation iron glaze (tiezu). The octagonal base of the vase inside the foot ring has the six character mark of Qianlong in three columns of underglaze blue seal script (zhuanshu). The origin of this type of vase dates back to the imperial wares of the Song. The eight vertical bow strings are the only innovative addition.
This type of wares was increasingly produced under Qianlong in lujun, green and imitation guan glazes. As a rule, they were used at court as showpieces.

 

 

   

      

绿釉剔刻花蟠螭纹花盆
Green glazed flower pot with a relief of hornless dragons

Period: Qianlong (1736-1795)
Height: 7.3 cm, rim diameter: 13.9 x 18.9 cm, foot diameter: 8.5 x 12.6 cm                 

 

 

  
      

 

 

  Oval pot with sharply cut rim, tapering sides and spreading foot ring resting on four legs. The legs have the shape of ruyi clouds. The entire object, including the base, is covered with a turquoise glaze. The flat rim has an incised meander. The outside shows hornless dragons (chi) as part of a continuous geometric composition in a vigorous decorative style. The foot is decorated with a wreath of lotus petals, the outer rim of the foot ring with a stamped meander. The base shows no mark but only a small draining hole. This rare masterpiece with its pronounced decor and clear lines has been exquisitely crafted. Its fresh green glaze is a feast for the eye. In Chinese, the glaze applied here is called songshilü (songshi, literally: pine stone, is Chinese for turquoise) or qiukuilü (‘gumbo green’). It was developed under the Qing emperor Yongzheng as a new type of cupric oxide glaze for low-temperature firing.

 

 

 

      

           

红釉瓶
Vase in underglaze red

Period: Qianlong (1736-1795)
Height: 25.9 cm, rim diameter: 7 cm, foot diameter: 8.4 cm

 

 


 

 

 

Mouth slightly spreading, long neck, spherical belly, foot ring slightly spreading. The entire object is covered with a tawny glaze called ‘clearing red’ (jihong) in Chinese. The smooth deep red glaze surface has coagulated to a uniform thickness, looking both elegant and precious. Its generous tranquility conveys a sense of esthetic profundity. The base has the six character mark of Qianlong in three columns of underglaze blue seal script (zhuanshu). ‘Clearing red’ is a type of cupric glaze fired at high temperature to be reduced into a pure, tawny red colour. It was developed under Kangxi and remained current under Yongzheng and Qianlong. Under Qianlong, it was not only produced in the Jingdezhen Factory but also increasingly by privately-owned kilns, yet due to the high degree of difficulty of this firing process, successful items from the latter are extremely rare.

 

 

 

      

仿钧釉瓶
Vase in imitation
jun
Period: Qianlong (1736-1795)
Height: 47.3 cm, rim diameter: 5 cm, foot diameter: 12.8 cm

 

 

                

 


 

 

 

 

Straight mouth, long slender neck, sloping shoulder, spherical belly, foot ring slightly spreading. The entire object is covered with a copper red flambé glaze. As this smooth glaze with its dazzling rose-red colour has trickled down naturally, the moon white body has become visible near the rim. The base has the six character mark of Qianlong in three columns of underglaze blue seal script (zhuanshu), surrounded by specks of capucine glaze (feuilles mortes). Jun wares were a famous product of the Jun kilns in Yuxian (Henan province). The Jingdezhen Factory successfully started the production of imitation jun porcelains under Yongzheng. In 1729 Tang Ying, the Factory’s inspector, dispatched Wu Yaopu to Henan to investigate the composition of the jun glaze. Thanks to their efforts, the jun imitation became a success. It has frequent entries in the Qing palace records. In the Chinese vernacular, the model of this vase is called danping (‘gall bladder vase’) as it looks like a gall bladder (dan). This type of vase was developed under the Ming and remained current under the Qing.

 

 

   

 

        
         

 

仿哥釉琮式瓶
Vase in the shape of a cong in imitation celadon (fangge)

Period: Qianlong (1736-1795)
Height: 28.1 cm, rim diameter: 8.3 cm, foot diameter: 10.9 cm

 

 

 

 

Circular mouth, short neck, tall and square body, foot ring. The shape is sober and stately, the clay thick and firm, the jade-like glaze layer warm and fatty. The surface of the glaze is covered with a fine craquelé with sharp lines and a clear stratification with equally beautiful shallow and deep cracks. The four sides of the vase have the eight trigrams (bagua) in convex relief, from the top downwards to the left: xun (☴), li (☲), kun (☷) and dui (☱); to the right: qian (☰), kan (☵), gen (☶) and zhen (☳). The base has the six character mark of Qianlong in three columns of underglaze blue seal script (zhuanshu). This vase is an imitation and adaptation of the antique jade cong. In the late Song era (under the ‘Southern Song’), green glazed cong-shaped vases were already being produced in the kilns at Longquan, the imperial kilns and the ge kilns. Under the Ming and Qing, large numbers were also produced for the court in the imperial kilns at Jingdezhen as a type of traditionally designed showpieces.

 

 

 

   

      

白釉剔刻花双龙纹碗
White glazed bowl, with dragons in openwork

Period: Qianlong (1736-1795)
Height: 5.3 cm, rim diameter: 13.2 cm, foot diameter: 5.2 cm
                   

  

 

 

Bowl with spreading rim, deep curved belly, foot ring. The entire object is covered with white, smooth glaze with a moist appearance. The clay is fine and purely white. The sides are so light and thin that they appear to have been peeled off the clay. They are adorned with a scene incised in openwork: a couple of five-clawed dragons on top of a wave pattern, toying with a pearl. The base has the six character mark of Qianlong in three columns of underglaze blue seal script (zhuanshu). The openwork on the sides consists of tiny perforations with adjacent short lines covered with a translucent glaze. First, a design was drawn on the wafer-thin raw clay. On the lines of it, perforations the size of a rice-grain were then made one by one. Next, these perforations were covered with thin layers of a specially prepared transparent glaze and the entire object once more glazed and fired once at high temperature, leaving the perforations filled with a crystalline translucent mass. The extremely delicate result is called linglongci (‘nimble porcelain’) in Chinese and duivelswerk (‘diabolical craft’) by Dutch collectors. Under Qianlong, this demanding technique reached a very high degree of sophistication.  

 

 

   

            

 

酱釉高足盘
Dish on tall foot with capucine glaze

Period: Qianlong (1736-1795)
Height: 7.2 cm, rim diameter: 16.9 cm, foot diameter: 7.8 cm               

 

 

 

Scalloped spreading rim, deep curved sides. The flat base rests on a tall, shawm-shaped foot, the inside of which is concave. The glaze on the outer rim of the foot has been scraped off, exposing some clay. The decoration of the outside of the dish and the middle part of the tall foot consists of two parallel lines in convex relief. The design of the object is elegant and regular. With the rim and the base excluded, the firm clay is almost entirely covered with capucine glaze. The center of the white glazed base has the six character mark of Qianlong in three columns of underglaze blue seal script (zhuanshu). Capucine glaze, called ‘sauce glaze’ (jiangyou) or ‘purple gold’ (zijin) in Chinese, is a type of ferriferous glaze fired at high temperature. The colour looks like sesame paste. This technique has a long tradition in Chinese porcelain history. Under Shunzhi and Kangxi, it was mostly used on the rims of various types of objects. 

 

 

 

 

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