CATALOGUE NUMBER 0084
LARGE FAMILLE VERTE YEN-YEN VASE
KANGXI PERIOD (1661-1722)
Height: 29 ⅜ inches
Berwald Oriental Art, London, 2000
Sweeping mountainous blocks of greens and blues spiral around the undulating form relieved by open areas punctuated only by swirling polychrome clouds and flocks of birds in orderly flight. The painting, while reminiscent of classical literati style landscapes, exemplifies deliberate early Qing aesthetic criteria. It exudes technological mastery; a feat encouraged by the Kangxi emperor not merely to acheive superiority of the individual item but by extension causing a positive reflection on the many advancements which occurred under the imperial aegis. The potters of Jingdezhen were encouraged to push technological limits, as exemplified in the present piece, which is of large imposing size, finely potted, and with polychrome glazes fired to perfection. In addition the subject matter cannot just be seen as merely decorative. The landscape is also a contemporary societal portrait; an exploration of identity and place within strict hierarchical confines. The composition follows a winding path that wends its way ever upward through mountains and over streams. There is an element of theatricality in the presentation of humble fishermen as they eke out a living on the water to the lofty retreats of the scholarly elite cradled among the rugged mountains.
There are few examples of the same large size, palette and form; a white ground baluster vase with magpies perched on prunus is illustrated in Catalogue of the Collection of Old Chinese Porcelains formed by Richard Bennett, Esq, Gorer, London, 1911, no. 271, p. 50; a green ground example with a pheasant resting on the bough of a magnolia tree in Stephen Bushell, Catalogue of The Morgan Collection of Chinese Porcelains, New York, 1907, pl. LVI, Case XXXII, no. 804; and another green ground example but painted with prunus is in the Nelson Atkins Museum, Kansas City illustrated in A Handbook of the Collection, New York, 1993, p. 300.
Text and images on this page appear courtesy of
Sotheby's New York and are excerpted from:
Sotheby's New York. Embracing Classic Chinese Culture: Kangxi Porcelain from the Jie Rui Tang Collection. March 14, 2014, p. 46. [exhibition catalog].