On The Square

Colorful Chinese Monochromes at Millea Bros

By Anthony Wu

May 13,2024 | 09:00 EDT

Millea Bros will be hosting a three-day Select auction from May 15-17 in Boonton New Jersey. Part of the second day of the sale series on May 16 will be 150 Asian objects from China, Japan, the Himalayan region and India. 

By far the most talked about object is lot 2076, a Chinese Liuyeping Porcelain Vase. Liuyeping 柳葉瓶vases literally translate to ‘willow leaf’, and are also referred to as amphora vases. This particular example has a six-character Kangxi 康熙 reign mark to the base which refers to a possible dating of 1664-1722.

On the base are also an old Christie’s New York lot sticker and a label stating the piece was exhibited in a 1935 exhibition at the Royal Academy in London.

These types of liuyeping vases are especially desirable in the current market for their rarity and elegant proportions. They were popularized during the 17th and 18th centuries in China and can be enameled in monochrome colors, or blue and white and copper red designs.

This particular example has a very even and rich peachbloom monochrome glaze. There is an old restoration to the vase’s rim, but the estimate of $500-$700 can still be seen as extremely conservative.  

Another Chinese monochrome at the Millea Bros auction is lot 2031, a Chinese Pink Glazed Carved Porcelain Vase. The shape of this vase is based on ancient Chinese Bronze Age vessels from over 2000 years ago.

Enameled in a ‘hot pink’ tone, the shoulders feature interesting elephant-head handles and the body has a design of a falcon perched on rockery while under a canopy of a large twisting tree. It uses a raised slip design which was added after the original vase’s shape was constructed.

The base of the vase has the maker’s seal of Wang Bingrong 王炳榮, the name of a famous vase designer from the mid 19th Century. He was renowned for creating Chinese porcelain scholar objects like brushpots, brushwashers and incense containers with these raised slip designs. His vessels are usual monochrome in nature and can also be enameled in lime green, vanilla white, and robins egg. This attractive vase has an auction estimate of $600-$800. 

Lot 2110 from the Millea Bros auction is a well-executed Japanese boat-form vessel attributed to the great Makuzu Kozan (1842-1916). Kozan was renowned for his late 19th Century porcelain wares because of their interesting forms and glazes. This particular example bears the artist’s mark on the base of the vessel and depicts two of the seven Japanese house gods, Daikoku and Ebisu, peering at the gorgeous phoenix within the well. 

Daikoku is symbolic of the harvest whereas Ebisu represents fishing. The two deities are often seen together since they represent two of Japan’s most important societal foundations – land and sea. This interesting vessel is estimated at $400-$600. 

Click here to view the catalogs of Millea Bros May 15-17 three-day Select sale.

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Lot 2076, Chinese Kangxi Liuyeping Vase. Estimate $500-$700 
Lot 2031, Chinese Pink Glazed Carved Porcelain Vase. Estimate $600-$800
Lot 2110, Attributed Makuzu Kozan, Boat Form Vessel. Estimate $400-$600