An Unusual Large Kangxi Blue and White Porcelain Vase c.1690 – 1700.

A very large and unusual Kangxi Blue and White porcelain vase and cover c.1690-1700. The moulded porcelain vase faceted sides with unusual moulding above the flared base. Painted in rich tones of cobalt blue with panels of flowers, these include magnolia, prunus and peony. Just in side the vase is a large but rather feint Chinese character in under-glaze blue. The collar is decorated in the Baroque style with rich swags of flowers resembling European engravings. This type of decoration relates to the rare but well known ‘Canal House’ vases from the Vung Tau Cargo of c.1690-1700. Another unusual feature of this vase is that the base is unglazed.



The vase : in excellent condition, a small very shallow flake type chip to the inner edge of the rounded unglazed footrim c.17 x 5 mm. The cover : broken in two, with one cover broken into three sections, this has been very well restored.
Height : 53.5 cm (21 inches).
Stock number



Baroque Displays of Chinese Blue and White Porcelain :

Vases Such as the Present Examples were Ordered in Large Quantities By the Dutch East India Company (V.O.C.) at the End of the Seventeenth Century. They were often used as Part of Fashionable Baroque Decorative Schemes, Displayed on Gilded Brackets and on little Ledges, in fact on any and every Available Surface.
The Desired Effect was to Show the Pieces on Mass as part of a Grand Room Setting, Arranged so as to Overwhelm the Spectator. Garnitures were specifically made for chimney pieces but were used in many different decorative arrangements.
This Fashion, Sometimes Referred to as 'China Mania' was Bought from Holland to England by Mary II (Reigned 1689 -1694). Her Rooms at Kensington Palace (5 Minutes Walk from our Shop) were Decorated in this Fashion. Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) Stated that "The Queen (Mary) bought in the custom or humour, as I may call it, of furnishing houses with China-Ware, which increased to a strange degree afterwards, piling their China upon the tops of cabinets, scrutores, and every chymney-piece, to the top of the ceilings, and every setting up of shelves for their China-Ware, where they wanted such places, till it became a grievance in the experience of it, and even injurious to their families and estates". Even allowing for Artistic Licence this give an Idea of the Extent of the Fashion.


Peony :

Peonies are the most commonly encountered flower on Chinese porcelain, indeed in Chinese art in general. There are two cultivated types of peony commonly depicted, the tree peony Paeonia Suffruicosa (Mudan) and the herbaceous peony P.Lactiflora (Shaoyao). Both have rich exuberant flowers with thin silk like petals but the plants are rather different to each other. The tree peony is not in fact a tree but a deciduous shrub, sometimes rather large and sprawling, it has irregular woody stems. It shares a similar leaf and flower form to the herbaceous peony but they are not close in other ways. The Chinese refer to the peony as the `King of flowers` and are seen as equivalent to the first rank among officials. The flowers are closely associated with royalty because they have been grown in imperial gardens since the Sui dynasty (581-618). The peony is one of the flowers of the four seasons and represents the Spring. It symbolizes wealth and honour, honour in the sense of high rank, having an official position, or high social status.


Plum Blossom (Prunus) / Meihua :

Plum Meihua is one of the most important plants in Chinese art. Their flowers grow on knurled old angular branches, the flowers are fragile and pure, so they can be a symbol of vigour in old age as well as purity. The tree is the first to flower after the long hard winter, symbolically it can represent perseverance as well as renewal. This meaning is enhanced by a background of cracked-ice, the design can be seen as representing the end of winter and the beginning of spring with the ice of winter cracking to reveal a new year dawning. Branches of plum blossom convey the `Five Blessings` Meikai wufu, longevity, wealth, health, love of virtue and a peaceful death. The number five, an auspicious number to the Chinese, is taken from the five petals of the plum flower.