Robin's egg: the colour of success

On 25 October 2019, by Philippe Dufour

With this vase from China, all the ingredients were lined up for a stratospheric result: an imperial pedigree, an unusual form and above all a highly-desirable colour evoking the delicate shades of a sparrow's egg.

China, Yongzheng period (1723-1735), vase in the shape of a "ruyi er ping" in "robin’s egg" enamelled porcelain. On the reverse, Yongzheng’s mark in six zhuanshu characters incised under the glaze. Old inscription in Latin letters in partially erased ink, "Qianlong 1736-1795", h. 27.5 cm.

Result: €2,280,000

The 27.5 cm high vase inspired a lengthy bidding battle in situ and by phone before arresting its flight at €2,280,000, after a high estimate of €300,000. It was bought by a Chinese buyer present in the room. This splendid score quadruples the €570,400 achieved on 13 December 2018 by another vase in the same colour, from the same period, at the Jonquet auction house in Boulogne-Billancourt. The one here dates from the reign of the Yongzheng Emperor (1723-1735) and carries his six-character mark in zhuanshu. The sovereign particularly admired the monochromes of the Song period, and suggested them as models to the leading ceramists of his time. One of these, a certain Tang Ying, was the director of the Jingdezhen workshops and supposedly invented the incredible grey-blue shade – obtained by blowing iron oxide onto the surface before firing. Meanwhile, the vase's somewhat unusual shape is based on the "two-ruyi" typology (so-called because of its two sceptre-shaped handles), with a rimmed garlic head neck. This rare form was much appreciated by various emperors, and is illustrated by three vases now in the National Palace Museum of the Forbidden City.

Thursday 17 October 2019 - 14:30 - Catalogue
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