A large blue and white ’Peony’ Jar (Guan). Yuan dynasty, Circa 1300 A.D. of robustly potted baluster form, freely painted with four registers of underglaze-blue decoration, a band of petal lappets rising from the base, separated by a narrow classic scroll from a broad band of scrolling peony displaying the blooms from various angles, below a stylized leafy lotus scroll, divided by a pair of high-relief lion-mask handles, surmounted by an ‘Eight Treasures’ lappet band, the waisted neck with a raised band below a border of waves and clouds and a classic band of geometric interlocking circles around the lipped rim. 15” by 15”
In its material, form and design, the present impressive guan is the classic representation of blue and white porcelain from the Yuan dynasty. This was a highly innovative and experimental period in the history of China’s porcelain production, when aesthetic tradition of small, utilitarian and mostly monochrome stonewares were replaced by an impressive style of monumental porcelains with formidable ornamentation. Yuan blue and white vessels were unmatched in the world for their quality and decoration that appealed to the courts throughout Asia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
The present jar represents the early stage of the shape known as guan, in which the body is of elegant ovoid form with sloping shoulders below a short straight neck and a distinct rim around the mouth of the vessel. This type of jar is generally applied with two lion-mask handles and painted with a major decorative band and a number of minor bands at the foot and neck in dynamic contrast. The banded decoration combines the most characteristic elements of Yuan porcelain design – the peony and lotus scrolls, waves, classic scroll and petal panels and the bajixiang motif. These design elements are impressively executed on this guan with the cobalt-blue especially deep with effective use of the ’heaping and piling’ technique. The tonal graduation of the cobalt displays the skilled calligraphic brushwork of the artist who has produced his design with confidence and skill.
For comparable examples see a closely related vessel, retaining its cover, excavated from the tomb of Yang He, who was buried in 1395 in the outskirts of Bengbu in Anhui province, illustrated in Wang Qingzheng (ed.), Underglaze Blue and Red, Hong Kong, 1993, pl. 9; another included in Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics in the Topkapi Saray Museum, Istanbul, vol. II, London, 1986, pl. 581, color pl. p. 408; and a third vessel excavated in the city of Huaian, Jiangsu province, illustrated in Ye Peilan, Yuandai ciqi, Beijing, 1998, pls. 53 and 52. Another jar of related shape with a wave design band on the shoulder, in the Tianjin Municipal Museum, Tianjin, is published in Tianjin shi yishu bowuguan cang ci, Tianjin, 1993, pl. 69.
See also a guan from the Jinguantang collection, illustrated in Splendour of Ancient Chinese Art, Hong Kong, 1996, pl.46, sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 28th October 2002, lot 689, but the neck painted with a wave band design; and another jar of similar shape and size but painted with a different design band combination, sold at Christie’s New York, 26th March 2003, lot 238.
The offered jar is in Excellent to near Perfect condition, with no breaks, chips, cracks or repairs. When examined under high powered magnification, the glaze shows similarities to finely packed snow, or ice crystals, while the shades of blue are in keeping with time period. This Imperial Jar has been appraised with a value of $895,000. (U.S. Dollars) It is being offered here on GoAntiques at the discounted price of $850,000. (U.S. Dollars)
Listed at GoAntiques under Elegance Antiques.