Blue and white bottle vase

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Ming Dynasty, Chongzhen period, 1628 - 1644
37 cm

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The compressed globular body is supported on a straight foot, tapering to a waisted neck with a raised bulb below a flared mouth. The vase is finely painted in brilliant shades of cobalt with the four sages and two servants in a lush landscape with rocks and trees. Below the landscape is a band of petal lappets and above a floral scroll band at the shoulder. The neck of the vase has sprays of stylized tulips, the bulb has a meandering lotus scroll. The recessed base is glazed white.

This type of Jingdezhen porcelain, called ‘Transitional porcelain’, was manufactured in the turbulent years during and after the transition from the Ming Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty. During this period the Ming system of large-scale manufacturing Imperial ware collapsed, and a new market for the high-quality porcelain was found in both the domestic rich merchant class as in the foreign trade. Without the imperial rules and with a whole new demand, the style of porcelain changed majorly: a more free approach was taken and most of it was painted in underglaze cobalt blue on white. The absence of the Imperial patronage resulted in a diverse production. The illustrations were influenced by other genres, like woodblock illustrations in books, which were often used as inspiration or copied. The period of the Transitional porcelain lasted from 1620-1683 and ended when the new Qing Dynasty resumed large-scale use of the Jingdezhen kilns and workplace for official wares under the Kangxi emperor. 


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