Vase of bottle shape with “garlic” mouth

Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty or possibly modern, Qianlong reign, 1736-1795, or possibly early 20th century
Porcelain with enamels over clear, colorless glaze; ivory stand
Jingdezhen ware
H x W: 17.2 x 9.5 cm (6 3/4 x 3 3/4 in)
China, Jiangxi province, Jingdezhen
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Ceramic, Vessel


China, falangcai, Jingdezhen ware, landscape, pomegranate, porcelain, Qianlong reign (1736 - 1796), Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), woman, WWII-era provenance

Probably Sale, Yamanaka & Company, London [1]

Mrs. Christian R. Holmes (1871-1941), New York and "The Chimneys," Sands Point, Port Washington, Long Island, reportedly purchased from Yamanaka & Company [2]

Yamanaka & Company, New York [3]

About 1949
H. L. Hsieh, New York, from at least October 1949 [4]

From 1949 to 1954
C. T. Loo & Company, New York, purchased from H. L. Hsieh in October 1949 [5]

From 1954
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from C. T. Loo & Company on December 8, 1954 [6]


[1] According to Soame Jenyns, the vase belonged to Yamanaka & Company in 1927, see Soame Jenyns, Later Chinese Porcelain: The Ch'ing Dynasty, 1644-1912 (London: Faber and Faber, 1951), pl. 79, p. 93, note 23. In articles published in 1996 and 1998, Tomita Noboru identified a vase of this form and decoration, which he described as "a pair with the Freer piece", in a Yamanaka auction in London in February 1927, see Tomita Noboru, "Yamanaka Shokai tenkan mokuroku kenkyu--sekai hen (Research on Yamanaka Exhibition Catalogues - International Cases: Transfer of Cultural Artifacts in Modern China and Japan)," The Tohoku Gakuin University Review 115 (1996), pp. 180-184 and Tomita Noboru, "Yamanaka Shokai tenkan mokuroku kenkyu--Nihon hen; Chugoku kindai ni okeru bunbutsu ryushitsu to Nihon--shimo hen (zen) (Research on Yamanaka Exhibition Catalogues; Japanese Cases: Transfer of Cultural Artifacts in Modern China and Japan)" Tosetsu 542 (May 1998), p. 68 and fig. 7.

[2] According to Collection of Chinese and Other Far Eastern Art Assembled by Yamanaka & Company, Inc. (New York, 1943), no. 1203 and Warren E. Cox, The Book of Potter and Porcelain vol. II (New York: Crown Publishers, 1944), pp. 600-601, pl. 170.

[3] The vase was published in a brochure inventorying the selected objects from Yamanaka & Company's collection in 1943, see Collection of Chinese and Other Far Eastern Art Assembled by Yamanaka & Company, Inc. (New York, 1943), no. 1203 (ill. in color on the frontispiece). The objects in the brochure were offered for sale as a part of the process of the firm's liquidation by the office of Alien Property Custodian. Since the vase was not included in a series of public sales of the Yamanaka & Company's stock which took place in May and June 1944, it must have been sold between 1943 and 1944.

[4] See C. T. Loo's stockcard no. LI-9/140: "Porcelain bottle vase, pear shape body on high foot ring, slim tall neck with bulbous top. Decorated in delicate famille rose enamels. Woman holding a fan and two children in a blooming garden with rockery, foliated bulbous top. Two lines poem with three red seals. Four character seal mark underfoot, in raised grey enamel. Imperial Ch'ien Lung. Finest quality of Ku Yueh Hsuan," C. T. Loo & Frank Caro Archive, Musée Guimet, Paris, copy in object file. According to the stockcard, Loo purchased the vase from Hsieh in October 1949. See also C. T. Loo's letter to Archibald G. Wenley, dated January 13, 1950, copy in object file, in which Loo mentions Mr. Hsieh as the previous owner of the vase.

[5] See C. T. Loo's stockcard cited in note 4. According to information on an archival vault card, Registrar Office, Loo left the object for examination at the Freer Gallery on November 30, 1949. On October 9, 1950, the dealer took the vase back and brought it again to the Freer Gallery on May 8, 1952.

[6] See C. T. Loo's invoice, dated December 8, 1954, copy in object file.

Previous Owner(s)

Mr. H. L. Hsieh
Mrs. Christian R. Holmes 1871-1941
C.T. Loo & Company 1914-1948
Yamanaka and Co. 1917 - 1965


The painting on the vase is symbolic of the wish to bear high-ranking sons.  Pomegranates in the dish beside the woman signify fertility, and the osmanthus branch held by one of her sons portends his future success.  The Chinese word for osmanthus (gui) is a homophone for the word meaning noble. Also because osmanthus trees bloom during the season of the imperial examinations (the eighth lunar month), they symbolize literary success and official position.  The poem on the vase is a conventional verse about the transience of nature - "when blossoms are at their fullest,then  autumn naturally has come" (in Chinese tradition auturmn begins in the eighth lunar month); the poem  serves as an opportunity to include calligraphy on the vase, so together we have the Three Perfections (painting, poetry and calligraphy) on this one porcelain vessel.  

Published References
  • Yang Enlin. Chinesische Porzellanmalerei im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert. Munich. ill. 24.
  • Oriental Ceramics: The World's Great Collections. 12 vols., Tokyo. vol. 10, pl. 129.
  • Roger Soame Jenyns. Later Chinese Porcelain: The Ch'ing Dynasty, 1644-1912. London. pl. 79.
  • Warren E. Cox. The Book of Pottery and Porcelain. 2 vols., New York. vol. 2: p. 601, pl. 170.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 102, vol. 1: p. 175.
  • W. Aubrey Cartwright. Guide to Art Museums in the United States: East Coast, Washington to Miami., 1st ed. New York. p. 32, r.
  • Linda Merrill. The Peacock Room: A Cultural Biography. Washington and New Haven. p. 69, fig. 1.25.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 74.
  • Archives of the Chinese Art Society of America. vol. 9 Honolulu, 1955. p. 83.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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