Archive item - not for sale
Chinese blue and white 'gu' vase, Kangxi (1662-1722), decorated in underglaze cobalt blue with two continuous landscape scenes containing pagodas to the top and bottom section, the middle section with two further mountainous landscape panels and floral sprays.
Landscape painting has been a key element of Chinese art for millennia, in part due to the ideal of scholarly seclusion within nature, away from the trials and demands of court life. From the Yuan dynasty onwards, many educated Chinese retreated to the mountains to seek self-cultivation and artistic inspiration. Consequently, idealised landscape scenes became popular within Kangxi ceramic design, which often made reference to the elevated literati culture of earlier times. The form of this vase, too, makes direct visual reference to ancient Chinese history: ‘Gu’ bronze vessels were used in rituals from the Shang and Zhou dynasties (1600-256BC) and were characterised by their tall, slender shape, tapering centre and flared rim.