Description This bottle vase, of globular body and narrow straight neck, is painted with designs in underglaze cobalt blue on white porcelain. A series of Fu Lions are depicted playing with brocaded balls, tassels waving lively around the bounding animals. Lions, characterized by their manes and fluffy tails, are Buddhist guardians often portrayed in similar scenes as the one depicted on this bottle. On the shoulder of the vase is a diaper band filled with blooms while the neck is painted with a creature; it shares the serpentine body of a dragon but lacks a mane or claws. The mystical creature's split tail forms leafy vines surrounded by dispersed flames and an effulgent pearl. The narrow everted lip is painted with two rings. The year 1683 during the Kangxi reign (1662-1722) marks the return of the Imperial production of porcelain and the reinstitution of the Imperial kilns at Jingdezhen. A revival of imperial blue and white porcelain resulted in superbly crafted porcelains with well combined body, glaze, cobalt pigment, and skillful decoration. Refined blue cobalt allowed for adventurous and varied painting techniques, emulating watercolor on paper. Blue and white porcelain was popularized in China by the Mongol emperors during the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368). Trade along The Silk Road meant access to Middle Eastern imports, including Persian and Central Asian cobalt ore that facilitated the porcelain production from the 14th to the early 15th century. Domestic sources of cobalt ore, including the vibrant Buddha Head blue, replaced or were mixed with the expensive imported cobalt.
Provenance Graves Sale, American Art Association, 1909, no. 404; Henry Walters, Baltimore [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; by bequest by Walters Art Museum, 1931.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters
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