I am brand new to your group, and brand new to collecting Chinese art. I collect Pre-Historic Southwest, Pre-Columbian, and African art ... and I am really starting to love Chinese art as well. I am considering buying the vase that I uploaded photos of in the "file" section, and titled them "dragon1" and "dragon2" (RIGHT ). My problem is, even with all of the studying I've done, I am still afraid of buying a fake.
Can you please tell me if this vase is authentic...if you can tell from the photos...and what a really good deal would be on the piece. Thanks, and I look forward to learning about Chinese art from you all!
Dear Craig O'Dell
It looks new to me. What is it supposed to be? Xuande? I can't think of any early Ming piece with a sprayed blue ground and the form looks too flaccid to me. Is it being sold by an ebay dealer? If so, then by whom. There are alot of sharks out there. If this was Xuande Pd., and I assume that this is in perfect condition (which few of the early pieces are), this vase would be worth many, many thousands of dollars. I can assume that it is being offered for sale in the hundreds of dollars. Beware!Hope this is a help,
Welcome to the Group. You are very wise to ask for assistance if you have no expertise in this area and are unsure. It would be a good idea to visit a museum that has an Asian Art collection so you can see what genuine items look like first hand or visit a "name" gallery that specializes in Chinese porcelain. Reading Sotheby's or Christie's catalogues will help you to be aware of current values.
Before you buy an item on eBay which is where I would guess that you saw this piece and the description began with "Stunning" or "Superb", you have to know some basics and you can find much of that information here on Jan-Erik's site.
Take advantage of the incredible amount of information he has thoughtfully provided to assist new collectors. This vase is most certainly not Ming. The design is based on an extremely rare Yuan dynasty motif found on two sizes of meiping vases produced during that period wherein the ground color was a deep cobalt blue color and to my knowledge was not repeated in the Ming dynasty.
The ground on this vase is powder blue, a late 17th C invention during the reign of the Kangxi Emperor of the Qing Dynasty. This fact alone would rule it out for being Ming. Its shape is not Ming either. The applied dragon is a crudely modeled take-off of a late Ming style dragon. The reign mark reading Xuande period of the Ming Dynasty appears to be copied from an 18th C Qing apocryphally marked piece as the style of the handwriting is distinctly of that time frame.
I think the piece is supposed to be a late Kangxi copy of an imagined Ming meiping. It fails on all accounts to be even Kangxi. The powder blue glaze is too glassy and the bottom of the vase and footrim are not done in the Kangxi manner. The paste is the typical buff colored paste with excessive burning that occurs on pieces produced in one of the kilns outside of Guangzhou, modern Canton.
If I am correct this is a piece offered by lazz2 either with an opening bid of $9.99 or $19.95 and it is worth that or more depending on how much you wish to pay for a decorative modern item. Genuine Imperial Ming items are extremely rare and fetch on average minimally $30,000 at the major auction houses. The chances of finding such an item on eBay is like winning the lottery, maybe less.
Xuande did produce the powder blue ground. There was a big Xuande bowl with powder blue ground and anhua dragon auctioned by Sotheby in Hongkong in 1973. The strike price was HK$3.5 million then. In the same auction, a Chenghua doucai chicken cup and a stem-cup with bird and floral design were auctioned for HK$4.2m and HK$4.9m respectively.
The shape of the meiping in question is definitely not Xuande. It is too plump, short and curvy. The wave pattern and the dragon are also very weak and lack the forcefulness and fluency found on Xuande pieces.
Definitely, powder blue just like the underglaze monocrome red of the early Ming are very rare. The technology for producing them was lost before Mid-ming period and rediscovered only again in Kangxi Period.
Koh Nai King
Dear Koh Nai King, Thank you for the information and the photo. I had thought that the "powder blue" glaze was a late 17th.C. invention. I learn something new every day.
The bowl you illustrate is a rare type referred to by Sotheby's as a "dice bowl" and the color is not the powder blue of the Kangxi reign. It is referred to as "sprinkled blue" wherein the coarser ground blue pigment was sprinkled over the wet clear glaze before firing producing a mottled effect of dark and lighter shades.
The dice bowl has a dragon designed incised into the clay beneath the glaze. The Kangxi powder blue was fine powdered cobalt coloring blown onto the wet glaze through a bamboo tube covered with gauze.
This produced a finely mottled powdery blue surface, hence the name. Similar techniques were employed using several colors producing the teadust and robins egg glazes. The formula for the copper red glaze known as sacrificial red was apparently lost and during the Kangxi reign the Qing potters attempting to duplicate it created langyao also known as sang de boeuf. Eventually they did recreate the color but its formula is actually different.
I have run through some of my reference materials. In the book by Mr Geng Baochang, the Chinese Ceramics expert of Beijing National Palace Musuem, he mentioned that he had only come across 2 such pieces. Indeed it is very rare.
He is of the view that the blue was applied by blowing the wet glaze through the bamboo pipe.
In Chinese, such glaze is termed as snowflake blue or sprinkle blue as you have mentioned. I have taken a closer look at the picture. The patches are actually quite evenly spread. It would appear that sprinkling of coarser ground blue pigment would be difficult to achieve that evenness. In his book, Mr Geng mentioned that the Kangxi powder blue is a continuation of the Xuande powder blue or rather sprinkled blue. He further mentioned that the Qing potters had perfected the technique and able to achieve a more even "powder" effect.
Thanks for all your help. I'm certainly glad that I asked you before I bought this item...unfortunately, I have bought 2 "Archaic Bronzes", and a few vases from Lazz2 on eBay. I guess that I should stick to collecting what I know. I've studied for days about Chinese art... but obviously not long enough!
I sincerely thank you all for your help, and I look forward to learning more from this group. Incidentally, I'm going to file some photos of the pieces I already purchased for future "fake" reference. Please feel free to criticize them, so I'll know what not to buy, and why not as well.
Thank you all for interest and participation,