Romance with a Republican Period Vase
Another upcoming highlight at YKLM Auction’s inaugural live sale on September 24th is this famille rose enameled porcelain vase from the Republican Period (c. 1912-1949).
Elegantly proportioned, the vase’s form is based on top Imperial examples from the Qianlong Period (c. 1736-1795). It is of baluster shape with a rounded body rising to a cylindrical neck and a slightly flaring rim. The handles are coral red and gilt-splashed elephant heads with dripping trunks.
This particular vase is extremely colourful with wonderful details throughout. It is decorated on a lime-green ground with wide bands of stylized lotus petals along the base, neck and rim.
Throughout the body are meticulously compact designs of lotus blooms and scrolling vine, interspersed with auspicious bats and Chinese coins.
The neck is decorated with idyllic landscape cartouches on a diamond diaper ground, and the base features a four-character Qianlong mark (乾隆年制) painted in iron red and gold – further paying homage to 18th Century examples.
What makes this vase so unique are the extremely well-painted scenes on the body and neck. They depict multiple groups of figures from the Romance of the Western Chamber (西厢记), one of China’s most celebrated literary works.
Written during the Yuan Dynasty (c. 1279-1368) by Wang Shifu (王实甫) (b:1250-1337) this play in twenty-one acts tells the story of a young couple from the Tang Dynasty (c. 618-908) who must overcome numerous trials to be together.
Their plight includes forbidden love, confrontations with bandits, a disapproving mother and the completion of civil examinations. The story’s ultimate happy ending enthralled readers for hundreds of years. Through perseverance and hard work, everyone can now dream of marrying their true love and living a lifetime of happiness.
The two large figural scenes on the vase’s body feature the story’s grand finale. On one side we see the happy couple married at last, while the other depicts a happy mother. The scenes are framed by five large bats which further suggest a joyful conclusion.
The words for ‘five bats’ in Chinese is wufu (五蝠), which sounds exactly the same as the phrase for ‘five fortunes’ (五福). Hence, this is the ideal symbolism to showcase the happy couple’s union. Hopefully, the fortune will be passed onto the owner of the vase as well.
This famille rose vase carries an estimate of $4000 – 6000 CAD and was consigned by a local Vancouver gentleman.
Re-visit the YKLM Blog section to see more Object Spotlights for our upcoming LIVE auction on September 24, 2019.
Previews will be held in our Richmond gallery at Lipont Place, 4211 No. 3 Road from September 20 – 23rd.
Written by Anthony Wu.
Based in Toronto, Anthony Wu is an Asian Art advisor, researcher, and writer. He is a certified Chinese Fine Art appraiser with the Appraisers Association of America (AAA) and a board member with the Canadian Association of Personal Property Appraisers.