Famille Verte ‘Four Concubines & Sixteen Sons’ Jar
A gorgeous and extremely well painted antique Chinese baluster jar, enameled in the famille verte palette with exactly four concubines and sixteen sons, a theme especially popular during the 18th and 19th centuries, a time when China under the Qing dynasty experienced unparallel commercial expansion and population growth. The four concubines are gathered in the family’s reception hall to enjoy a concert of qin music, while their sixteen sons play and gather in the surrounding courtyard. This jar is quite thickly potted and sturdy in form, with the base left entirely unglazed.
A note about the dating— this jar has many characteristics of Kangxi porcelain, with strong iridescence around the enamels (the infamous “halo” effect), a free and confident painting workmanship, and a porcelain biscuit with a velvety, flesh-like texture. However, Kangxi period porcelain with blue enamels are generally from late in the reign, circa 1710s, and jars from this period usually feature a protruding foot rim and a glazed base. Thus, it’s possible this jar is a very well-made example from the 19th century.