Sotheby’s Paris to Offer Qianlong Blue and White Moon Flask

Blue and white moon flasks come up for auction from time to time. This June, Sotheby’s is going to offer a blue and white 'bajixiang' moon flask from the Qianlong period, estimated at €200,000 - 300,000 (US$242,548 - 363,822), as the leading lot of Arts D'asie in Paris.

The blue and white ‘bajixiang’ moon flask has a six-character mark in underglaze blue 'Daqing Qianlong Nianzhi' (made in Qianlong period, Qing dynasty). The circular body rising from a splayed oval foot to a cylindrical neck flanked by a pair of S-scroll handles. The production of large vessels required the highest level of technical skill at that time. This type of vessel is given the name “moon” flask because the shape resembling full moon.

A challenging shape to fire without leaning to one side. The present flask is leaning slightly to one side. Its shape follows an early Ming type which in itself was inspired by middle-eastern metalware. The design of lotus petals radiating from a central rosette adorning either side of the flask is also inspired by more stylised geometric star-shaped medallions centred on a yin-yang symbol, with curved bands and pointed tips vaguely reminiscent of leaves and petals.

Bajixiang (eight Buddhist emblems) pattern on Imperial porcelain usually goes with lotus. On the present moon flask, besides the lotus pattern in the center, the neck and the foot are decorated with lingzhi in foliage scroll.

According to the condition report, there is a ca. 4 x 6 cm chip to the short side of the foot that has been restored. The lower half of the bulging part in the center of one side has been sprayed, probably to hide a scratch. There is light wear to the surface, particularly to the mouth rim and to the bulging part of the sides. The underglaze blue is a more vivid and deeper cobalt blue than the catalogue illustration suggests. Another noteworthy point is that this moon flask has no provenance.

A pair of Qianlong blue and white moonflasks sold for HK$28,540,000 at Bonhams Hong Kong spring sales in 2017

A pair of moon flasks of similar form and size was auctioned at Bonhams Hong Kong spring sales last year. Estimated at HK$20m-30m, the pair of Qianlong blue and white 'baijixiang' moon flasks once belonged to the collection of William Skinner (1834-1902), silk manufacturer and philanthropist. It sold for HK$28.2m with premium included.




A Large Blue and White 'Bajixiang' Moonflask, Qianlong Seal Mark and Period

Lot no.:155
Height: 49.7cm
Estimate: €200,000 - 300,000

Auction details

Auction house: Sotheby’s Paris
Sale: Arts d'Asie
Lots offered: 155
Preview: 2018/6/9 - 11|10am - 6pm
2018/6/12|11:30am (lot 101 – 132)
2018/6/12|2pm (lot 133 – 255)