Fine Examples of Chinese Art
Very Fine and Rare Yellow Ground Dayazhai Vase Guangxu

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Directory: Antiques: Pre 1900: item # 445957

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Meiping Ltd.
New York
New York

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Due to Market Conditions This Vase Is No Longer Being Offered for Sale

Very Fine and Rare Yellow Ground Dayazhai Vase Guangxu
Very fine and rare, decorated in grisaille with vine entangled wisteria overcome by tree peonies with their attendant floral tendrils, all on a yellow ground, inscribed with three characters "dayazhai" and "tian di jia chun" within a seal, the four character mark on the base, "yongqing changchun" in iron red. Guangxu. 17 in.

Provenance: Pennsylvania collection

The Empress Dowager, Cixi, was the mother of the Tongzhi Emperor and the power behind the Dragon Throne from 1861 until her death in 1908. She obtained her regent status upon the death of her husband, the Xianfeng Emperor, in 1861 and through Palace intrigue maintained it when her son died in 1873 and her grandson, the Guangxu Emperor ascended the Throne. The history of China from the last half of the 19th C through to the end of the Qing Dynasty traces her many actions and decisions which led to the end of Imperial China.

A person who loved the arts, it is reputed, although not definitively shown, that Cixi designed a number of patterns of porcelain that were then manufactured at the Imperial kilns at Jingdezhen and ostensibly at a number of private kilns that could produce excellent wares. The Dayazhai pattern is her most famous design and is represented by the vase offered here. Three marks were used in the design. The first "dayazhai" means "Studio of Great Elegance" which is the Hall in the Imperial Palace where it is reputed she lived. The second "tian di jia chun" is "Spring throughout heaven and earth - one family". The third, "yong qing chang chun" represents " Eternal joy and everlasting spring".

Dayazhai wares were generally made in two basic colors: on a turquoise ground with purple wisteria as the central theme; and on a yellow ground in grisaille decoration where tree peonies entangle wisteria branches and there are profusions of both blooms. Apparently, a larger number of turquoise ground services were made, perhaps because the workmanship on the yellow ground with its grisaille decoration was much finer and more difficult to execute. Compare a yellow ground Dayazhai bowl, Sotheby's New York, September 21, 2005, lot 133 with a turquoise ground one, Christies New York, December 2, 1989, lot 386 and a pair of turquoise ground Dayazhai dishes, Christies New York, September 20, 2005, lot 410. Even to a casual observer, yellow ground Dayazhai wares are more beautiful and have become recognized as such, with rapidly escalating values attaching to them relative to the turquoise ground examples. Id. Sotheby's New York, lot 133 (selling price $12,000).

It appears that few large pieces of Dayazhai ware were produced in either turquoise or yellow ground, and there is a paucity of examples published. It is likely that of the two types even lesser numbers of large yellow ground ceramics exist, no doubt because the fabrication of such pieces required the most talented potters and painters to work in the exactitude of grisaille decoration and the application of the yellow ground. See Christies Singapore, March 30, 1997, lot 383, where a grisaille decorated Cixi porcelain used on the cover of the sales catalogue is described as a "Very Rare Dayazhai-Type Yellow-Ground Fish Bowl" and sold for what was then a record price for Dayazhai wares of $60,384.

Only three examples of vases on a turquoise ground have been published to our knowledge, a pair of bottle vases, Christies New York, December 2, 1993, lot 361, a globular vase, Christies New York, June 1, 1990, lot 332 and a pair of turquoise/lavender double-gourd vases, Sotheby's Hong Kong, October 23, 2005, the latter bringing a sales record for Cixi vases of $120,000.

Except for this offering, we have been able to locate only one other grisaille decorated yellow ground Dayazhai vase that has been published, Christies New York, November 29, 1990, lot 305 (pear shape design with handles, 13 in. high), offered again at Christies New York, September 15, 1999, lot 97A. See also H.A. Van Orrt, "Chinese Porcelain of the 19th and 20th Centuries", pl 72A-76.

The current Dayazhai vase is of exceptional elegance, beauty and quality. We believe that it is one of the the finest and rarest of its kind.

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