A very large pair of vases and covers
Lot 107
A magnificent pair of blue and white baluster vases and covers Kangxi
Sold for £218,400 (US$ 367,091) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
The Property of a Gentleman
A magnificent pair of blue and white baluster vases and covers
Each decorated entirely on the tall bodies with five wide horizontal bands, a band of stiff plantain leaves around the flaring neck, a wide band of blue-ground trefoil profile lotus on the shoulder, above gui dragons coiling and striding on blue-ground segmented flower heads in symmetrical looping coils and blue ground white lotus blooms in profile above the flat foot, the domed cover with trefoil lotus panels beneath large knob finials (two minor rim chips, some rim fritting).
103cm (40 1/2in) high. (4).


  • For an identically shaped vase dating to the same period but painted with '24 scenes of filial piety', see Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, Vol. II, p.118, pl.746, where the author refers to these vases as 'grenadier' vases after Augustus the Strong, King of Poland acquired five of these vases as part of a larger consignment of 151 in total from Frederick William I, King of Prussia in exchange for 600 cavalrymen from Augustus' army. According to Krahl the vases are extremely rare. Another example is illustrated by R.L. Hobson, Chinese Pottery and Porcelain, London, 1915, Vol. II, pl.91, fig.3 also belonging to the porcelain collection at Dresden.

    Fig.1: 'N:2 vvv' refers to the inventory of the Japanese Palace taken in 1721, and the 'vvv' references it as 'blau und weiss Ostindisch-Porcelain' (blue and white East Indies porcelain), though not making any differential between Japanese and Chinese porcelain. This is one of the unique features of the Dresden Porcelain Collection formerly belonging to Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland (1670-1733). The inventories which list the entire collection displayed in the Japanese Palace and the acquisitions until 1727 have been preserved. This collection was made up of 24,000 pieces of which 10,000 still exist in Dresden today. The precise number N:2 is listed in the first chapter of the inventory, Garnitures, and lists : '13 pieces of vases, white ground, blue decorations, with short necks and lids, on each of them a pointed blue knob, 1 cubit 21 inches high, 21 inches diam.' Augustus the Strong was particularly drawn to monumental vases of this kind, displaying them in the residential Castle in the 'Turmzimmer', the King's private 'porcelain cabinet'.

    Fig.2 I.111 and fig.3. I.107 probably refer to auction numbers, as many pieces from the Dresden Collection were sold at auction at Lepke Auctioneers, Berlin, during the 1930s.

    Augustus the Strong started collecting porcelain in a systematic way around 1715 which led to the Hollandische Palais being converted into a 'Porcelain Palace' to display East Asian porcelain which included both Chinese and Japanese sourced porcelain (alongside Meissen pieces). From 1722, the Hollandische Palais became known as the Japanische Palais (Japanese Palace). Augustus the Strong died before the Japanese Palace was completed and his collection was moved into the cellars of the Palace until 1827 when it was displayed in the former royal gallery, the Johanneum.

    Bonhams would like to thank Dr. Eva Strober, curator of the Oriental Department at the Augustus The Strong Collection, Zwinger Museum, Dresden for assistance with the preparation of this footnote.