National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Vase Chinese Qing Dynasty (artist)
Vase, early/mid 18th century
porcelain with apple-green glaze
overall: 18.5 x 10.2 cm (7 5/16 x 4 in.)
Widener Collection
Not on View
From the Tour: Chinese Porcelains
Object 8 of 24

This striking pear-shaped vase is one of the most beautiful apple-green vessels in the National Gallery collection, despite the pinhole on its neck. Its graceful profile coupled with its brilliant emerald green surface distinguish it from the two more squared-off and pale bottle vases in the collection (1942.9.537 and 1942.9.542), and relate it more closely to the third, 1942.9.535, whose glaze is darker than that seen here. Yet the treatment of the foot and the unstained crackle link all four pieces and indicate that this vessel was manufactured relatively early, if not as early as the other three vases.

This particular shape, which the Chinese call "gall-bladder shaped" (dan ping), is encountered with some regularity in other eighteenth-century wares.1 Apparently this shape was less commonly executed with an apple-green glaze, as no exact counterpart has been located. A very similar but slightly smaller piece, described as "cucumber-green" (called guapilü in Chinese), can be cited as an example.2

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


1. Of importance for the dating of this piece is a monochrome red-glazed "gall-bladder-shaped vase" (dan ping) with a Yongzheng reignmark in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, which is extremely close in shape to this vase. See Teresa Ts'ao, Catalogue of a Special Exhibition of Ch'ing Dynasty Monochrome Porcelains in the National Palace Museum [Exh. cat. National Palace Museum], Taipei, 1981, 43, no. 10, repro. See also the marked Yongzheng monochrome robin's-egg-blue vase of the same shape: Ts'ao 1981, 95, no. 42, repro. The shape is also encountered in polychrome wares; for a marked Qianlong famille rose example, see Ho-pi Tsai, ed., Catalogue of the Special Exhibition of K'ang-hsi, Yung-cheng and Ch'ien-ling Porcelain Ware from the Ch'ing Dynasty in the National Palace Museum [Exh. cat. National Palace Museum], Taipei, 1986, 92, no. 75, repro.

2. "Catalogue of the Exhibition of Monochrome Porcelain of the Ming and Manchu Dynasties," Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society: 1948-194924 (1951), 58, no. 154, pl. 27, bottom row. The exhibition was held in 1948.

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