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Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 8 October 2009: Lot 1807 
 

1807
AN IMPERIAL YELLOW JADE BOWL
MARK AND PERIOD OF QIANLONG
the translucent stone of meline Imperial yellow tone with subtle white veining, the rounded sides rising to a slight flared lip, supported on a tall, thick foot, inscribed on the base with a four-character reign mark in clerical script reading Qianlong nianzhi (fitted box)
14.2 CM.

PROVENANCE
Sotheby's New York, 23rd March 1998, lot 349.

This elegant jade bowl is a rare example of a small group of jade vessels made during the Qianlong period which all appear to have a distinctively deep and thick foot. This type of foot rim was possibly inspired by a bowl presented to the emperor from Turkestan, probably the product of carvers in Khotan, in 1756, as explained in The National  Palace Museum Monthly of Chinese Art, no. 1, 1983, p. 89. See three vessels belonging to this special group; a spinach-green bowl of slightly smaller dimensions, with an Imperial poem dated to 1758, illustrated in Chinese Jades Throughout the Ages – Connoisseurship of Chinese Jades, vol. 11, Hong Kong, 1996, pl. 23; a celadon jade bowl carved with the Emperor's poem dated to 1765, ibid., pl. 17; and a white jade bowl also with an Imperial poem dated to 1775, ibid., pl. 19. All three bowls mentioned above bear the Qianlong yuyong ('For the Personal Use of the Qianlong Emperor') mark on the base.

Another slightly smaller white jade bowl of this type, inscribed with Qianlong's poem dated to 1765 but recorded for the year 1766 in the anthology of Imperial Qianlong  poems, Qing Gaozong yu zhi shiwen quanji: Yu zhi shi san ji, juan 53, p. 2, under the heading Yong Hetian yu wan ('In Praise of a Khotan Jade Bowl'), from the collection of Elizabeth Parke Firestone, was sold at Christie's New York, 22nd March 1991, lot 532, and again in these rooms, 26th October 2003, lot 33. The same poem can be found on a jade bowl of similar form and size, in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, included in the museum's exhibition Empty Vessels, Replenished Minds: The Culture, Practice and Art of Tea, Taipei, 2002, cat. no. 165.

The present bowl is exceptional for its brilliant translucent yellow colouration which was much favoured by the Qing Court for its association with the Imperial colour of yellow. The stone used for making this bowl is unusually large for a relatively flawless piece of material, and amongst the known yellow jade pieces, it is especially striking.

Four-character Qianlong nianzhi ('Made during the Qianlong period') reignmarks written in clerical script, as seen on this vessel, can be found on a number of Imperial wares from the Qing Court collection. For example see a spinach-green jade brushpot illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures from the Palace Museum.  Jadeware (III),Hong Kong, 1995, pl. 168; a white jade censer and cover published in Zhongguo yuqi quanji, vol. 6, Shijiazhuang, 1993, pls. 351 and 352.

The clerical script was also used for marks such as the Da Qing Qianlong fanggu ('Exemplifying Antiquity during the Qianlong Reign of the Great Qing Dynasty') as seen on a spinach-green jade hu form vase included ibid., pls. 186 and 187; and on an archaistic vase and cover published in Yang Boda, Guyu kao, Beijing, pl. 126. Furthermore, the script was commonly used in the addition of Imperial compositions to vessels, mounts and stands during Qianlong's reign. See a boulder included in The Complete Collection of Treasures from the Palace Museum.  Jadeware (III), op.cit., pl. 78, inscribed with the Qianlong emperor's poem dated to 1787. Compare also the style of writing of an Imperial poem dated to 1795, on a wood stand for a jade Mughal-style bowl, published in Zhongguo yuqi quanji, op. cit., p. 45, pl. 75.

From the aforementioned examples it is evident that pieces bearing marks written in the clerical style were made on Imperial command and are products of the Palace Workshop. Marks of this type became standard during the second half of Qianlong's reign possibly after the Mughal jade bowl was presented to the Emperor.

 

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