You can just catch a glimpse of two examples of Chinese Sang de Beouf Monochrome vases sitting on the English Regency breakfast table. I bought these two pieces at least 9 years ago for not very much--they were sleepers and perhaps no one paying attention (eyes were blinded?). The piece on the left has a large old (at least 100 year old restoration) rim repair. But it was the beauty of the form, the interior crackle celadon glaze together with the flambe sang de boeuf that made me fall in love with it. And since it was for me, not for resale, the damage was of little concern. The second vase (on right) I bought around the same time--I loved the size and foo dog handles--I also bought it for me; so I didn't really check out its age or details (I also popped off one of the handles on the way home--I kept the handle). These two 15" sang de boeuf vases have sat on top my tall etageres for about 8 years gathering dust.
Last week while Roberto was unpacking and putting "stuff" away, a Chinese gentleman came in and wanted a price on the late 19th c. Famille Verte Vase (the one that was a lamp....see post of 11/11/12 "Updates++serendipity). So I told Roberto the pricing and said that I would be right there. My Chinese gentleman said "fine" and bought it. (This never happens with Chinese buyers and I have been selling Chinese porcelains for over 15 years--I have to spend ages haggling over just $50--$25.)
When we had completed the sale, I asked the gentleman if he were interested in Sang de Boeuf and his eyes lit up. So we agreed that I would send him photos of my pieces.
After I had studied and photographed the pieces, I realized that these two vases were better than I had thought........
18th c. SANG DE BOEUF VASE
The first two photos show different angles and exposures--when assessing Chinese porcelains, the quality of the glaze is very important. The glaze must be deep and translucent. The third photo shows the foot of the piece which will almost always reveal the age of the porcelain (be careful: the new fakes are so good that it takes an expert to discern the difference). This foot is clearly 18th c. and the crazed pale celadon glaze is confirmation. The foot rim must show minor chips/wear and must be powdery smooth to the touch, an effect of centuries of being moved across a surface.
Finally, the details of any damage or restoration must be shown in a good close-up shot.
19th c. SANG DE BOEUF VASE
Here is the second of the two 15" vases. This one (with the missing handle that I popped off) is definitely not 18th c. The quality of the glaze on this piece is excellent. The foot rim is more shallow and the potting is not at the same level as the 18th c. example. But the foot rim does reveal age and quality. The internal deep Sang de Boeuf glazing is a sign of quality. The repositioning of the handle is a minor fault when assessing value.
THIRD PIECE UP
This last example is definitely not 18th c. It is most probably early 20th c. Republic Period. BUT THIS GUY IS HUGE--25" and impressive. The glaze is good--deep and translucent but the foot rim reveals its age--without the newer mark it could be 19th c., if you were simply looking at the rim. But the mark is definitely 20th c. As you can see, there is damage to the rim.(Jones is helping with the photography)
THE QUEST BEGINS. Where to find a price point comparison. My Internet search revealed that I needed some one with considerable more knowledge than I. My first resource was Steve McIntrye--a long time dealer friend who has specialized in Chinese porcelains for several years. And thank goodness I did. After a bit of research Steve got back to me with estimates that he considered to be at the quite low end of the market.....and in the thousands even considering the damages.
My Chinese gentleman (he sent the photos off to specialists in China) met me on Monday in the new shop and bought the 19th c. example. I do need to get the handle repositioned, but that is not a problem. He is putting off the purchase of the 18th c. piece (and it is a bit pricey), but I think that he will also purchase that puppy.
I am so grateful to Steve for his quick appraisal and to the nudge that told me to investigate things a little further. Will I miss these vases sitting pretty on my etageres? Maybe for about 1 minute as there is always more and everything in life is a blessing.
Have a wonderful adventurous week.
Mary & Jones (Cole loved the snow)
I think that I will keep the large vase for a while....
My gentleman might just buy it if I put it before him. You just never know.