Qing Dynasty, Kangxi Period (1662 - 1722)
Height: 16.5 cm
Published and Exhibited
Weisbrod 30 years, Anniversary Exhibition, 2002, New York.
The porcelain wine pot is of rounded form molded as a peach standing on an evened foot with a high straight edge. From either side, the body below the waist the aubergine handle and spout extend as gnarled branches towards the shoulder. The end of the spout turns out and smaller leafy branches extend from the spout onto the shoulder of the ewer. The handle terminates similarly on the opposite shoulder.
On one side, a man kneels down on a carpet holding above his head a ritual vessel. Before him is a bearded figure dressed in ceremonial clothes gesturing to the prostrated man. A young servant holds a banana leaf over the head of the superior being. On the other side, a lady in flowing garb holds a basket of flowers as she looks over her shoulder to a deer walking behind her. She stands in front of a scholar’s rock in a landscape setting.
All are painted, with polychrome enamels in the famille verte palette, on a mottled lime green ground in yellow, aubergine, green and turquoise with black details. On the bottom of the unglazed base, a hole has been pierced through the center of the body.
The scenes decorating this wine ewer are most likely stories of Taoist origin.
The peach has an important place among Chinese symbols. It is an emblem of marriage, springtime, and immortality. Taoist priests used the wood of a peach tree to make seals with which they would seal their talismans and amulets. Branches of the tree are also used to expel fevers. The fruit, however, possesses the power of immortality and is the chief ingredient in Taoist elixirs.
Wine ewers decorated in this palette with the enamels applied directly onto the body are very rare.
Wine pots in the shape of natural objects painted in famille verte enamels were popular during the Kangxi Period. Vessels were shaped like lotus plants, melons, pomegranates, gourds, and bamboo. These objects were made both for the home market and also sold abroad to private buyers and European customers. The clever design eliminated the use of the removable cover unifying the body, spout, and handle into one whole pouring vessel.
A peach-shaped ewer in blue glaze is in the collection of the Tokyo National Museum, illustrated in Illustrated Catalogues of Tokyo National Museum: Chinese Ceramics, figure 679. Another wine pot in the Robert Lehman Collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, is published in A Handbook of Chinese Ceramics, plate 207.
See an underglaze blue and red wine pot in the shape of a peach published in Treasures of the Chinese Scholar, figure 109. For a wine pot in the shape of a bamboo plant, see Seventeenth Century Chinese Porcelain in the Butler Family Collection, plate 122.
A similar turquoise and purple glazed footed ewer is illustrated in The Butler Family Collection, Geneva, volume II, number 219, by John Ayers who dates the ewer to the 17th century.