Peach Brush Washer

Object nr. 570 China, late Kangxi period (1662-1722) Height: 6.5 cm | Length: 12 cm

Private Collection, France

Condition Report available

€ 9,500

This object can be viewed in our gallery.

Additional Information

Peach Brush Washer

This brush washer is in the recognisable asymmetrical shape of a peach. It is glazed in a, very soft, blue tinged white. The darker clay shows through the glaze in parts of the rim, where the glaze is thinner. A freely modelled naturalistic gnarled branch with leaves, curls around the bottom, serving as a foot and handle. The foot has three unglazed patches, probably from where it stood when firing.   The colour and shape of this brush washer, are both reminiscent of the Song Dynasty Guan ware, which was very much admired in the early Qing Dynasty. The Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD), the period preceding that of the Mongolian Ming rulers, was considered the a very sophisticated era of great learning and elegance. Its style was therefore often emulated in the later periods.

Peaches (taozi), are amongst the most important Chinese auspicious symbols and are depicted in many art forms since ancient times. It is immediately recognisable by its asymmetrical heart shape, often with branches and leaves of the tree added. The peach, which represents longevity, features in many popular Daoist stories; as achieving immortality was one of their main concerns. They believed that magic peaches bestowing eternal life, grew on trees which grow in the Garden of the Queen Mother of the West (Xiwangmu). These special trees only flowered once every 3000 years and took another 3000 to bear fruit. Therefore the peach is a much used and loved symbol for spring and longevity and was a favoured motif for birthday wishes.

Museé Guimet, Paris has two comparable peaches (G3528 & G2174). The Indianapolis Museum of Art, also has one from the same period with a more crackled glaze ( 60.137). A larger and shallower peach brush washer, is in the Palace Museum, Beijing (GU151932).

- T.T. Bartholomew, Hidden Meanings in Chinese Art, San Francisco, 2006, p.73

- Xavier Besse, La Chine des Porcelain, Musée national des arts asiatiques – Guimet, Paris, 2004, p.122 nr.45

- Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection: Volume Four (2), London, 2010  p.348 nr.1800

- Evelyn Rawski & Jessica Rawson, China: The Three Emperors (1662-1795), Exhibition Catalogue, The Royal Academy, London, 2005, p. 374, 468 & nr. 292

- Patrcia Bjaaland Welch, Chinese Art: A Guide to Motifs and Visual Imagery, Tokyo, 2008, p.55

Floris van der Ven