KANGXI BLUE AND WHITE LANDSCAPE BALUSTER JAR (KBW111324)
Ca. 1700-1710s, early 18th century
Kangxi period, Qing dynasty
Porcelain with underglaze cobalt blue; Jingdezhen ware
Height: 32.3 cm / 12.7 in
Width: 28.4 cm / 11.2 in (at widest point)
From an Allentown, PA estate
A stunning mid Kangxi blue and white baluster jar, featuring a panoramic landscape scene painted in a deep cobalt blue, and covered with a luminous clear glaze.
For much of the Kangxi period, non-imperial minyao wares of superb quality were the standard de rigueur. Until 1680, the Qing government was unsuccessful in establishing an official imperial kiln. An atmosphere of lawlessness and unrest persisted throughout most of the 17th century in southern China, where the Ming resistance movement still lingered. The unrest of 1673 was so bad that the Wu Sanggui rebellion nearly burned Jingdezhen to the ground.
Nonetheless, potters did what they could between episodes of war and plunder. By the beginning of the 18th century, Jingdezhen developed a rich repertoire of glazing and cobalt refining techniques that made possible a wide variety of gorgeous blue and white minyao porcelain. Superior preparation of cobalt ore produced intense blue hues that remained sharp and defined even after firing (unlike the blurry “heap and pile” effect of earlier blue and whites). Potters also added calcium phosphate to the original ash-petunse formula to lend the glaze a deeper brilliance.
Kangxi minyao porcelain also took to a large scale underglaze decoration in the manner of shuimo landscapes. Until the 17th century, decoration on Chinese ceramics–if any at all–tended to take on repetitive patterns, motifs, and symbols. Yet painting decoration such as the one seen on this jar resist against earlier trends with its free, bold, and casual brushwork full of literati sensibility. Looking at this vase, one is almost reminded of the landscapes of Li Rihua, Xiang Shenmo, and Li Liufang.
Condition: bottom neatly drilled, small firing flaw at the very top of the mouth rim. An area of the vase has a slightly more yellowish glaze than the rest (due to temperature inconsistency in the kiln). This problem does not look obvious in real life. [Please examine all photos carefully, as they are part of the condition report.]