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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Cylindrical vase

Cylindrical vase

mid- 17th century

These characters are from the 14th-century epic novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Part of a brotherhood sworn to reestablish the Han dynasty after its 3rd-century fall, Lord Guan Yu wields the halberd Blue Dragon, a legendary weapon standing for his martial prowess and heroic deeds. His companions are his son Guan Ping, his horse Red Hare, and Zhou Zhuang holding the reins. Porcelains from this period of transition from the Ming to Qing dynasties are known for their artistic freedom and appeal to diverse customers, who enjoyed decorations based on popular literature and theatre.
Porcelain with underglaze cobalt-blue decoration
Height: 17 3/4 in. (45.1 cm)
Diameter 6 5/8 in. (16.8 cm)
Gift of William H. Gates and Mimi Gardner Gates
Provenance: Private collection; [E&J Frankel Ltd. Oriental Art, New York, New York]; [Kenneth W. Rendell Inc., New York, New York]; Bill and Melinda Gates, Seattle, Washington; to William H. Gates (1925-2020) and Mimi Gardner Gates, Seattle, Washington, 1996; to Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington, 2021
Now on view at the Asian Art Museum


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Porcelain Stories: From China to Europe, Feb. 17 - May 7, 2000. Text by Julie Emerson, et al. No cat. no., pp. 116-17, reproduced pl. 10.3.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Asian Art Museum, Boundless: Stories of Asian Art, Feb. 8, 2020 - ongoing [on view beginning July 23, 2022].
Published ReferencesLittle, Stephen. Chinese Ceramics of the Transitional Period: 1620-1683. New York: China Institute in America, 1984. Exh. Cat.

Sheaf, Colin. “Reflections on Transitional Blue and White.” In Arts of Asia, Vol. 39, Issue 1, Jan-Feb, 2009: pp. 91-99.

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