• Archaic bronze wine Vessel and cover (hu)

    Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition

    Twelve Masterpieces of Chinese Art, of Porcelain, Gold, Silver, Bronze and Stone, from the 10th century BC to the Yongzheng reign (1723-1735).

    Archaic bronze wine Vessel and cover (hu)

    40.2cm (H)

    Middle to Late Western Zhou period, 10th - 9th century BC

    This bronze hu vessel, most probably originally a wine container, is remarkable for its decoration of cicadas cast in the round, combined with wave-like peaks.  Its inscription indicates that it was commissioned by one of the Dukes of the Rui state of the Middle Western Zhou period.  It was unearthed sometime in the late nineteenth century and belonged, in the early twentieth century, to the legendary collector and connoisseur Viceroy Duan Fang (1861-1911), a high official serving the Guangxu Emperor and his powerful mother the Dowager Empress Cixi.

    • Gold kneeling figure
    • Gold kneeling figure
    • Gold kneeling figure
    Gold kneeling figure

    Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition

    Twelve Masterpieces of Chinese Art, of Porcelain, Gold, Silver, Bronze and Stone, from the 10th century BC to the Yongzheng reign (1723-1735).

    Gold kneeling figure

    10.8cm (H)

    Han period, 206 BC - 220 AD

    This figure represents a shaman (wu) or immortal (xian or yuren) with mask-like face and exaggerated features, wearing a cape and tunic composed of feathers.  The figure is made, exceptionally, of cast and beaten gold worked with extraordinary delicacy.  Other comparable examples are only found in bronze.  

    • Glazed stone-paste ear-cup
    • Glazed stone-paste ear-cup
    Glazed stone-paste ear-cup

    Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition

    Twelve Masterpieces of Chinese Art, of Porcelain, Gold, Silver, Bronze and Stone, from the 10th century BC to the Yongzheng reign (1723-1735).

    Glazed stone-paste ear-cup

    13.6cm (L)

    Late Eastern Zhou period, 3rd century BC

    This 'ear-cup', so known for the handles at the sides which are thought to resemble the ears on a face, is a survival of a very labour intensive and highly specific glazing technique that seems to have been abandoned in succeedinig centuries.  The vivid blue, yellow, brown and white elements that form the pattern - essentially dots and C-shapes - are built up of layers of glaze fired to just short of their melting point so that their form is preserved. 

  • Limestone carving of an Apsaras

    Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition

    Twelve Masterpieces of Chinese Art, of Porcelain, Gold, Silver, Bronze and Stone, from the 10th century BC to the Yongzheng reign (1723-1735).

    Limestone carving of an Apsaras

    54.5cm (H)

    Northern Wei period, early 6th century

    This sculpture is of an apsaras, or heavenly being in a lively pose, wearing the floating garments that denote it would have been positioned as 'flying', carved out of the high wall or ceiling of a cave temple.  It was almost certainly carved for one of the Northern Wei Buddhist cave temples at Longmen where work began in the very late fifth century. 

  • Gilt silver bowl and cover

    Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition

    Twelve Masterpieces of Chinese Art, of Porcelain, Gold, Silver, Bronze and Stone, from the 10th century BC to the Yongzheng reign (1723-1735).

    Gilt silver bowl and cover

    Diameter of bowl 24.3cm, Diameter of cover - 24.5cm

    Tang period, late 8th - early 9th century

    This 'parcel-gilt' - i.e. partly gilded - silver bowl and cover displays exquisite chased workmanship depicting lotus, pomegranate and other plants.  It is one of only 8 such bowls known to exist with a cover and the only one now outside a museum.  All were apparently unearthed in Eastern Mongolia in 1930.  This example formerly belonged to the famous Swedish collector Carl Kempe.

  • Glazed porcellaneous stoneware dish

    Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition

    Twelve Masterpieces of Chinese Art, of Porcelain, Gold, Silver, Bronze and Stone, from the 10th century BC to the Yongzheng reign (1723-1735).

    Glazed porcellaneous stoneware dish

    Diameter: 23.1cm

    Northern Song to Jin period, 12th - 13th century

    This dish is a superb example of one of the most refined and sought after ceramics of the Song period - the creamy white Ding wares of North China.  It is decorated with an exceptionally crisp moulded deisgn of a dragon pursuing a flaming pearl amongst clouds.  Three other dishes - two in the Palace Museum, Beijing, and one in the Shanghai Museum - appear to be almost identical and may have emanated from the same mould. 

  • Blue and white porcelain dish

    Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition

    Twelve Masterpieces of Chinese Art, of Porcelain, Gold, Silver, Bronze and Stone, from the 10th century BC to the Yongzheng reign (1723-1735).

    Blue and white porcelain dish

    Diameter: 48cm

    Yuan period, mid - 14th century

    This is a truly exceptional example of 'blue and white', where diluted cobalt oxide is painted on to porcelain, glazed and then fired.  It was first introduced, into China, during the Yuan period and has been incalculably influential ever since.  This particular example, as high an expression of the painter's art as if it had been  ink on silk, is also techincally interesting.  It combines painting in blue on a white background as well as white on a blue background and also incorporates moulded elements in relief as part of the design.  Most unusually, one of the lotus petal panels inside the dish incorporates a Persian inscription.

    • Blue and white porcelain bowl
    • Blue and white porcelain bowl
    Blue and white porcelain bowl

    Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition

    Twelve Masterpieces of Chinese Art, of Porcelain, Gold, Silver, Bronze and Stone, from the 10th century BC to the Yongzheng reign (1723-1735).

    Blue and white porcelain bowl

    Diameter: 14.6cm

    Ming dynasty, Chenghua mark and of the period 1465-1487

    This 'palace' bowl exemplifies why Chenghua porcelain is often viewed as the summit  of ceramic perfection.  The ware is creamy white, covered with a thin, smooth glaze that is like satin to the touch.  The deisgn is often deceptively simple, as in the present example, the brushstrokes overtly painterly.  There appear to be only 8 other 'palace' bowls painted with the same flower design, inside and out, still in existence. 

    • Yellow-glazed porcelain ewer and cover
    • Yellow-glazed porcelain ewer and cover
    Yellow-glazed porcelain ewer and cover

    Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition

    Twelve Masterpieces of Chinese Art, of Porcelain, Gold, Silver, Bronze and Stone, from the 10th century BC to the Yongzheng reign (1723-1735).

    Yellow-glazed porcelain ewer and cover

    14.5cm (H)

    Ming dynasty, Jiajing reign mark and of the period 1522-66

    'Imperial yellow' glaze such as is found on the present ewer and cover, was in favour throughout the Ming dynasty.  This particular ewer, from the middle Ming period, appears to be a very rare survivor.  Only one other Jiajing mark and period ewer of the same shape but glazed in iron-red - in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing -  appears to have been published.

    • Famille rose porcelain 'peach' bowl
    • Famille rose porcelain 'peach' bowl
    • Famille rose porcelain 'peach' bowl
    Famille rose porcelain 'peach' bowl

    Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition

    Twelve Masterpieces of Chinese Art, of Porcelain, Gold, Silver, Bronze and Stone, from the 10th century BC to the Yongzheng reign (1723-1735).

    Famille rose porcelain 'peach' bowl

    Diameter 14cm

    Qing dynasty, Yongzheng mark and of the period, 1723 -1735

    This bowl demonstrates perfectly the fineness and delicacy of overglazed enamelling achieved during the Yongzheng reign was on the Imperial throne.  The pinks, greens, browns and reds are applied after the bowl has been glazed and fired and are fired again at a lower temperature.  The subject here, bats circling round peaches, is a classic combination full of auspicious associations.

    • Falangcai porcelain pear-shaped vase (yuhuchun ping)
    • Falangcai porcelain pear-shaped vase (yuhuchun ping)
    • Falangcai porcelain pear-shaped vase (yuhuchun ping)
    Falangcai porcelain pear-shaped vase (yuhuchun ping)

    Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition

    Twelve Masterpieces of Chinese Art, of Porcelain, Gold, Silver, Bronze and Stone, from the 10th century BC to the Yongzheng reign (1723-1735).

    Falangcai porcelain pear-shaped vase (yuhuchun ping)

    30cm (H)

    Qing dynasty, Yongzheng reign mark and of the period, 1723-1735.

    In an exhibition of masterpieces, perhaps this vase stands out among the others.  Again, it was made during the Yongzheng reign, however it has probably a closer link to the Emperor than the 'peach' bowl (catalogue number 11).  The dragon vase was decorated in the enamelling workshop in Beijing, rather than in the south in Jingdezhen.  It was decorated in a colour, puce, one of the 'foreign colours' or falangcai that had only recently been perfected in China after instruction by the Jesuits at the Imperial court.  From the records it seems very likely that this  was presented personally to the Emperor for his approval and that he commended it.