Published Sep 30 2013, by



This beautiful vase, with its mat white body and deep, rich cobalt blue decoration where thickest, is a fine example of the best 18th-century pieces made at the official kilns at Bunwan, southeast of present-day Seoul. These potters had access not only to the purest, most highly refined kaolin clay and petunze (the necessary ingredients for porcelain) but also to good quality imported cobalt used to decorate such wares. But perhaps most important was the potters ability to throw well-balanced pieces and to decorate them masterfully. Here, two peony sprays are done in varied shades of cobalt set against a plain white body. They seem to grow from the lower body upward, extending across to the shoulder. And behind the lower peony blossom are three orchid leaves, added to offer pictorial balance, contrast, and interest.