A fine and very rare flambé-glazed 'pomegranate' lobed vase
Qianlong seal mark and of the period Finely potted with lobed vertical sections like a ripe pomegranate fruit, with splayed foot, globular body with curved shoulders, and flowerhead-rim all under a rich purplish red glaze, the base impressed with a six-character Imperial zhuanshu seal mark. 18.1cm high.
清乾隆 窯變釉石榴形尊 「大清乾隆年製」篆書款
The use of the copper-red on flambé glazes is unlike any other copper-red glazes as it contains lead and is easily identified by its visual and tactile qualities represented by a range of streaked, variegated and splashed tones. The difficulty of creating attractive flambé glazes cannot be overstated as the dramatic streaked effects are no relation to the skills in firing control, but rather a result from how the glaze reacts in the kiln.
Flambé glazes were only achieved towards the late Kangxi period and might have occurred by accident, as recorded in the second letter dated 1722 by Father François Xavier d'Entrecolles (1664-1741), the French Jesuit priest who was also an innovator in discovering Chinese porcelain manufacturing techniques though his investigations, 'I was brought a piece of porcelain called yao-pien [yaobian, flambé] or transmutation. This transmutation happens in the kiln and is caused either by a defect, or from excessive heat or some other unknown cause. This piece which, in the opinion of the worker, was not successful, and was caused by pure chance, is no less beautiful or prized. The worker had planned to make soufflé red vases. One hundred pieces were lost, and the one which I spoke of came from the kiln resembling a piece of agate. If one wanted to run the risks and the expense of different attempts, he could finally find the technique which chance produced only one.' The extract serves to demonstrate and stress two important points: although the discovery of the flambé glaze was an unknown stroke of luck, it was still considered 'beautiful' and 'prized'; it is also rare and difficult to produce, since according to the records only one was accidentally produced since 'one hundred pieces were lost'.
Compare a very similar example of another flambé-glazed lobed vase with flower mouth, also with impressed Qianlong seal mark, in the Nanjing Museum, Nanjing, illustrated in Treasures in the Royalty. The Official Kiln Porcelain of the Chinese Qing Dynasty, Shanghai, 2003, p.395. See also another similar example from the Meiyintang collection, previously in the J.M. Hu collection and later in the Hall Family collection (no.553), illustrated by Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection. Volume Four (II), London, 2010, pp.364-365, no.1811. A similar example with Jiaqing mark was sold in our London rooms, 8 November 2012, lot 122. For further reference, see also another related flambé vase (collection no. A291) in the Baur collection, illustrated by John Ayers, Chinese Ceramics in The Baur Collection. Vol.2, Geneva, 1999, p.153, pl.260; and another illustrated by Liu Liang-yu, A Survey of Chinese Ceramics. Ch'ing Official and Popular Wares. Vol.5, Taipei, 1991, p.207.
與本器相似之例，參看台北故宮博物院藏一件乾隆窯變石榴尊，著錄於《故宮清瓷圖錄：乾隆窯及其他》，台北，1980年，圖版75；另見山東博物館藏同樣一件乾隆窯變石榴尊，其器身月白釉流動更多（博物館編號1947CID39）；另見一件梅茵堂藏乾隆窯變石榴尊，屬胡惠春舊藏，著錄於康蕊君，《Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection》，卷四（下），倫敦，2010年，頁364-365；同樣器形，後朝都有仿製，南京博物院藏一件清道光窯變釉石榴尊，見《宮廷珍藏中國清代官窯瓷器》，上海，2003年，頁395；倫敦邦瀚斯曾售出一件清嘉慶窯變石榴尊，2012年11月8日，拍品122。
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