CATALOGUE NUMBERS 0120 & 0121
PAIR OF FAMILLE VERTE OVOID VASES
KANGXI PERIOD (1661-1722)
Height: 9 ⅞ inches
The Chinese Porcelain Company, Ltd., New York, 1997
Finely painted in famille verte enamels and gilt, this rare pair of vases is a superb example of the landscape painting style that has become known as "Master of the Rocks." The perfectly proportioned and potted form of the present vases lent an almost cylindrical surface on which the artist could paint. Both vases are decorated with a continuous rocky landscape depicting a fisherman in a boat with small figures waiting nearby or walking to a riverside retreat. Organized by strong diagonal and vertical forms, the rocks and mountains are painted with enamels so thick that at some points they have bubbled in the firing. Using different shades of green and the occasional blue and aubergine tone, the artist has scattered the effects of light across the scene. In a textbook illustration of the "Master of the Rocks" style, quick, black brushstrokes have been used to shade and contour the forms of the rocks, also playing against areas of plain wash. The so-called "blobby dots" described by Little appear to add further definition to the rock formations and to represent small blossoms on the dark green trees. In striking contrast to the dense terrain on one side, the scene diminishes to a serene river view on the other, where the solitary fisherman in a small boat patiently casts his rod into the calm waters. Peaceful formations of small birds float weightlessly near the golden moon that illuminates the sky. A small turn to the vase and more rocks gradually lead the scene back to the strong forms on the reverse view, thus two completely different aesthetics are subtly woven within one.