The Review with William Chak |A Blue and White "Flower and Fruit" Meiping and Yangcai “Chilong and Lotus Scroll” Vases

Toyko Chuo Hong Kong Autumn auction is going to take place in Four Season hotel Hong Kong in less than two weeks. The Value has invited prominent ceramics dealer William Chak to comment on two ceramic pieces from the sale, a Blue and White "Flower and Fruit" Meiping and a Pair of White Ground Yangcai, both from Qianlong period.

A Blue and White "Flower and Fruit" Meiping. Qianlong Six-character Seal Mark and Period.

Lot no.: 774
Height: 32.5cm
Provenance: European Collection
Estimate: HK$6,000,000 - 8,000,000

W: Qianlong, blue and white, “Sanduo” and meiping. These few words summarize this beautiful meiping. Meiping vases like this come to the market but it’s not common to see one so beautiful like this. Maybe I have to date back to 10 years ago. There was a meiping like this that went to the auction at Sotheby’s 10 years ago. It was hammered down for around HK$9m and fetched over HK$10m with buyer’s premium. 

Q: What does "Sanduo" (Three Abundances) mean?

W: There are three sets of flowers on this meiping - peony, chrysanthemum and folding flower - Together with Sanduo (Three Abundances). This one is pomegranate, symbolizing fertility. This one is lychee. It has the similar sounds of “li” and “ji”. “Li” means fortune and “ji” means auspiciousness. So lychee stands for both fortune and auspiciousness.

W (continue): And the peach means longevity. There are five sets of flowers. Simple and clear.

Q: How about other parts of the meiping vase?
W: Regarding the seal mark, it’s a standard seal mark of Qianlong’s peak. The blue and white colour of this meiping is perfect and its white glaze is evenly spread.The colour of “duck-egg” green is also perfect.

W (continue): Another notable point is its condition. This vase is well-preserved in good condition. It is spotless, which is rare. Among all extant meiping vases, Like I said, a few of them, appear in the market from time to time but some come with flaws in their colours, shapes or proportion. But this one is spotless. It’s a perfect “Sanduo” meiping from the Qianlong imperial kilns.

Q: Why does the colour blue look so dense and deep? The colour looks different from what we see in other Qianlong blue and white wares.

W: The blue colour here looks pretty dense. There is a reason for that because it’s imitating the blue effect from the Yongxuan period, instead of the prevalent blue in Qianlong. Imagine if the blue and white on this meiping was soft. How would it look? It would be like ink paintings. That’s why the colour blue had to be so dense and deep in order to recreate the blue effect like Yongxuan. At the same time, you can still see the details in flowers and foliage. It’s not easy.

A Pair of White Ground Yangcai “Chilong and Lotus Scroll” Vases With Phoenix Shaped Handles. Qianlong Six Character Seal Marks and Period.

Lot no.: 714
Height: 23.5cm
Collection of Carl Wesley Painter、Therese Toohill Painter
Estimate Upon Request

W: What a rare piece of art from the early Qianlong period. 

Q: What's so special about this pair of vases? 

W: First of all, it is rare that it comes in a pair. Secondly, this pair of white ground vases with phoenix shaped handles actually goes to the “Yangcai” (foreign colours) category. Though it will be more conservative for us to put it as “familie rose”, it definitely shows elements of “Yangcai”.

Q: How can you tell the vase is "Yangcai"?

W: First of all, look at the lotus. It shows influence of western painting. Here is also completely different from the traditional way of painting lotus. Secondly, there is a white gradient effect in green leaves. That shows a stereoscopic image. We can also see such western influence in the branches. The bumpy pattern here was painted with a blue pigment made of falangcai. Like the blue flower here. It was painted with falangcai.

W: Another notable point is its standard seal mark of the period inside a square. Besides the six-characters mark, we can also look at the square outside the mark. It is a feature that can be found in works from the early Qianlong period, from the 2nd to 10th years of the period. This red square outside the seal mark is also documented in the “Yangcai” book published by National Palace Museum in Taipei.

Q: This pair of vases is only 23.5 hight. Are they a little bit too tiny? 

W: Another notable point is its size. When I was still a protégé, I learnt from other experienced collectors that sizes matter. For Yuhuchunping (pear-shaped vase), the most standard size should be able to fit inside a cabinet. This pair of vases is 1-2 cm shorter than Yuhuchunping but they look even better this way. The motifs and the shape of the vases are simply beautiful.

W: Not to mention that these two vases is well-preserved and intact, in pair. It is a privilege for me to have taken a close look at this museum-grade piece of art Offered by Tokyo Chuo auction. It is simply rare.

Auction house: Tokyo Chuo (Hong Kong)
Previewing: 2017/11/24 - 25
Auction: 2017/11/26 - 27
Venue: Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong