National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Vase, called Chinese Qing Dynasty (artist)
Vase, called "The Flame", early 18th century
porcelain with oxblood glaze
overall: 43.8 x 17.8 cm (17 1/4 x 7 in.)
Widener Collection
Not on View
From the Tour: Chinese Porcelains
Object 5 of 24

The tall, slender shape of this baluster vase is quite restrained. The mouth turns outward only slightly; the neck is short, the shoulder sloping.1 Wheel-thrown, the vase still carries, on the inside, the grooves, or "throwing rings," made by the potters' fingers as the clay took shape.

The porcelain is fine-textured, white, and smooth where it is revealed on the carefully beveled foot-ring. A transparent, pale greenish glaze covers the inside and the base. On the outside, the dark red of the glaze drains away from the lip and streaks down the sides from the shoulder, becoming very deep in color on the lower half of the vessel. The glaze collects just at the bevel of the foot in a thick, perfectly controlled welt. On one side of the body there is a lighter streaked area. These color variations give the piece a lively individuality. At some time in its recent history, an unknown connoisseur aptly named this vase "The Flame."2 Although large langyao vases were not marked with the reign name or other marks on the base, all the characteristics of form and glaze described here indicate that this vase was made in the Kangxi period.3 Like all Kangxi glazes of the dark copper-red type, this one has a glossy surface with very small bubbles. It is because of the transparency and depth of the glaze that the bubbles create a sparkling effect.

(Text by Josephine Hadley Knapp, published in the NGA Systematic Catalogue: Decorative Arts, Part II: Far Eastern Ceramics and Paintings; Persian and Indian Rugs and Carpets)


1. A vase in the British Museum is very similar in size and shape; Soame Jenyns, Later Chinese Porcelain: The Ch'ing Dynasty, 1644-1912, New York, 1951, pl. 7, fig. 2.

2. Catalogue of the Morgan Collection of Chinese Porcelains; privately printed by order of Mr. J. Pierpont Morgan, 2 vols., New York, 1904-1911, 2: no. 1352, states "known in China and the Occident as the Flame."

3. Clarence Shangraw furnishes the information that unmarked langyao was not made at the imperial kilns, which under the supervision of Lang Tingji produced only wares with the Kangxi mark.

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