A large Guanyin-shaped vase decorated in Famille verte enamels with figures contemplating from the top of the terrace of a Palace women collecting water lilies in a boat, the rest of the decoration with a huge scholar rock, reign of Kangxi (1662-1722). Catalog of New Acquisitions 2020
The elegant silhouette of this vase is called "Guanyin" because it is one of the two forms listed for the pure water utensils associated with the representations of the goddess of compassion Guanyin.
These large vases were obviously produced on a very confidential scale in the 18th century under the reign of Kangxi and rather for the Chinese domestic market because most often treated in full decoration with a reduced use of the reserves on the shoulder and the top.of the neck as here. It is therefore necessary to turn to museum collections (see the Guimet Museum or the Washington DC Museum below) and a few rare examples in international sales to find equivalents which are different each time however, which pleads in favor of an individual and original manufacture for each of these rare specimens which illustrate the art of Famille verte enamels at their peak. Our vase, moreover decorated with figures, which is notably rarer than those to which we can compare it because they represent a landscape, a dragon or birds, is therefore probably unique in its category.
The enamels on our vase would have been qualified in the past as "soft enamels", a terminology attributed by pre-war academics to describe the undoubtedly experimental and controlled phenomenon of enamels superimposing or flowing slightly on each other and it is widely believed tha it was the result of an intended process, because it is also attested on imperially marked Kangxi bowls and dishes with secret decoration (anhua) of dragons with over them a painting of flowers in enamels Famille verte somewhat trembling or impressionist. Indeed, the subtle and unpredictable mixture of its enamels adds to our vase an additional movement and surprising life to the decor.
Contrasting with the clear and sometimes a little more scholarly aesthetic of the Famille verte vases produced under the Kangxi era for the foreign market, our vase is part of a more marked logic on the mandarin and literate side because it is evidently derived from free and daring stylistic processes inpsired by the classical Chinese painting.
References: for a similar vase but with a yellow background, see the Musée Guimet in Paris (illustrated p.181 in "La Céramique Chinoise Ancienne", Alxeandre Hougron, Éditions de l'Amateur, 2015); also in the Washington D.C Museum for a green ground specimen decorated with a dragon; for a vase also with a green background decorated with birds on flowering branches, see a sale from Christie's New York, 09/15/2016, lot 896, it being noted that this last vase comes from the collections of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, which once again attests that this type of vase is painly represented in museums collections.
From an Old english Collection.