A magnificent Imperial white jade 'phoenix' vessel, gong Qianlong

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Lot 27
A magnificent Imperial white jade 'phoenix' vessel, gong
Qianlong

Sold for HK$ 11,140,000 (US$ 1,419,576) inc. premium
A magnificent Imperial white jade 'phoenix' vessel, gong
Qianlong
The well-hollowed vessel rising from the back of a superbly carved high-relief phoenix with claws clenched tightly underneath, its head crowned with a stylised crest, its tail forming the handle intricately carved in openwork with ruyi-shaped plumage and extending up around the vessel, the sides carved in relief with spreading wings detailed with multiple layers of plumes and archaistic scrollwork, the translucent lustrous white stone of an even tone with faint russet inclusions. 18.8cm (7 1/2in) high

Footnotes

  • 清乾隆 御製白玉夔鳳紋觥

    Provenance:
    Luz Papasian (1915-2013), New York
    Doyle, New York, 16 September 2013, lot 282
    An important Asian private collection

    來源:
    紐約Luz Papasian舊藏(1915-2013年)
    紐約Doyle,2013年9月16日,拍品編號282
    重要亞洲私人收藏

    This exceptional lustrous white jade gong vessel can be numbered amongst the very finest jade carvings made during the celebrated Qianlong reign for the Imperial Court. It is very rare to find a jade carving of such impressive size and magnificent white jade stone displaying outstanding purity. These rare elements, combined with the archaistic style favoured by the Qianlong emperor, and masterful ingenuity of craftsmanship and design, all speak volumes of the Imperial origin of this lot, exemplifying the apex of jade craftsmanship during the Qianlong reign.

    The vessel is inspired in its gong form and design by archaic bronze wine vessels, first made during the second phase of the Anyang period; rapidly replacing the animal-shaped zun vessels. This form was revived during the Song dynasty. The Qianlong emperor advocated taking inspiration from antiquity in form and design, proposing to 'restore ancient ways', suggesting that jade carvers turn to antiquity for models, which would enable them to imbue their designs with simplicity and honesty, and so achieve refinement and elegance. The 'ancient ways' referred to the intrinsic values of sincerity, simplicity, and happy exuberance; see Chang Li-tuan, The Refined Taste of the Emperor: Special Exhibition of Archaic and Pictorial Jades of the Ch'ing Court, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1997, p.49.

    In this instance, the master carver was able to capture a sense of contemporaneity by merging the naturalistic style of the phoenix and ancient form of the ritual vessel together as a reinterpretation resulting in an Imperial masterpiece.

    The exceptional quality of the white jade stone used to produce this vessel would have become more available for the Jade Palace Workshop following the Qianlong emperor's conquest of the Dzungar Khanate between 1755 and 1759, where much of the jade was sourced. The jade carver whilst demonstrating his skills in the form and relief carving, ensured that the magnificent quality of the stone would be exhibited through the areas left unadorned, smoothly polished to a lustrous sheen.

    The present lot appears to be amongst the largest in size and of superior jade quality, compared to other jade in a selected number of vessels of related form. Compare with a similar white jade 'phoenix' gong vessel, but smaller in size (16.6cm high), in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated by Yang Boda, Zhongguo Yuqi Quanji, Hebei, 2005, p.542, no.37; see also two other related gong vessels of pale green jade and of white jade, from the Qing Court Collection (19.5cm and 14.1cm high), illustrated in Compendium of Collections in the Palace Museum: Jade 10 Qing Dynasty, Beijing, 2011, pls.82 and 84. See also a related white and russet jade gong of smaller size (11.5cm high), from the Yuanmingyuan, in the Musée National du Château de Fontainebleau, illustrated in Tsao Huei-Chung, Jade: From Emperors to Art Deco, Paris, 2016, no.194; and another related example, illustrated by R.Y.Lefebvre d'Argence, Chinese Jades in the Avery Brundage Collection, San Francisco, 1977, pl.LVII.

    Imperial archaistic vessels of similar form were also produced in other materials; compare a related cloisonné enamel rhyton, Qianlong, illustrated in Colorful, Elegant and Exquisite: A Special Exhibition of Imperial Enamel Ware from Mr Robert Chang's Collection, Suzhou, 2007, pp.34-35.

    A related Imperial white jade archaistic vessel and cover, gong, Qianlong, was sold at Christie's London, 13 May 2008, lot 65.

    白玉略泛青,局部有烤色。仿古彝器,扁筒式,口微敞,器形修長,器身前後分別圓雕及鏤雕鳳凰首尾,雙目圓睜,頂戴羽冠,昂首仰胸,氣宇軒昂,鳳尾成如意形羽狀,捲曲上揚,鳳凰雙翼浮雕於觥腹兩側,作仿古夔龍紋,器底雕鳳足,生動寫實又不失古雅之風。

    此類鳥獸負皿之式,取自上古青銅觥,屬祭祀酒器,最早見於晚商安陽時期,其出現取代了動物形青銅尊的地位。宋人復古,取其形而復之,繼盛於清,其中乾隆帝嗜古如痴,崇尚慕古之風,認為古典器物樸素、精純、高雅、有意涵,為此曾命梁詩正等人纂修《西清古鑑》,記錄清代宮廷所收藏商周至唐代青銅器過千件,繼而為玉匠提供靈感,詳閱張麗端著《宮廷之雅:清代仿古及畫意玉器特展圖錄》,台北,1997年,頁49。此鳳紋玉觥,取法古器,然造型裝飾皆有盛清新風,正是受到乾隆帝這種「慕古求新」審美影響下而產生的精美之作。

    乾隆帝於1755至1759年間平定準格爾叛亂,打通了新疆和田玉內運的道路,清代玉器的玉料來源問題從而解決,加上清宮玉匠技藝精湛,也使玉器發展達到了頂峰。從匠工對玉料的大方運用可推斷出此器很有可能是乾隆帝平定準噶爾後的宮廷玉雕製品。而採用上好玉料雕成之器,玉匠往往在設計上刻意多處留白,以突出玉石之光澤及瑩潤,此鳳紋觥便是一例。

    觥自古就為酒器,西周至春秋的文獻中既多有提及,如《詩經·桑扈》中有「兕觥其觩、旨酒思柔,彼交匪敖、萬福來求。」之句,隱喻人如思柔美酒一樣,不傲方能福祿不斷。唐宋時期,常有以觥飲酒者,並以觥指代貴重酒器,如唐張辭《上鹽城令述德詩》中有「訟堂無事調琴軫,郡閣何妨醉玉觥。」宋王義山《瑞龍吟》云「知是元戎初度,玉觥頻舉,雲堤煙市。」等。

    此鳳紋觥相比其他傳世鳳紋玉觥尺寸較大,實為難得,北京故宮博物院藏有三例類似的鳳紋觥,其中兩例尺寸稍小,一例見楊伯達,《中國玉器全集》,河北,2005年,頁542,圖37(高16.6厘米);另外兩例,見《故宮博物院藏品大系:玉器編10》,圖82(高19.5厘米)及圖84(高14.1厘米);法國楓丹白露宮藏有一件白玉仿古觥杯(高11.5厘米),為圓明園舊藏,著錄於Tsao Huei-chung,《Jade: From Emperors to Art Deco》,巴黎,2016年,編號194;帶有仿古夔龍紋但尺寸更小者,見Rene-Yvon Lefebvre d'Argence,《Chinese Jades in the Avery Brundage Collection》,三藩市,1977年,圖LVII。

    清宮陳設器中,同式的仿古鳳紋觥亦見銅胎掐絲琺瑯者,如一件清乾隆掐絲琺瑯鳳形花插,著錄於《絢麗‧華貴‧至尊︰香港張宗憲先生珍藏御制宮廷掐絲琺瑯器特展》,上海,2007年,頁34-35。

    參看倫敦佳士得曾售出一件清乾隆白玉仿古龍鳳紋觥,2008年5月13日,拍品編號65。
Contacts
A magnificent Imperial white jade 'phoenix' vessel, gong Qianlong
A magnificent Imperial white jade 'phoenix' vessel, gong Qianlong
A magnificent Imperial white jade 'phoenix' vessel, gong Qianlong
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