Transitional Style Vase Probably Dutch or French From Estate
Chinese Transitional Style Vase Understandably Confuses Owner and Some Experts
As you might imagine, we get daily emails from folks wanting to know about things they own. The objects were often inherited from estates or gifts from family members with little accompanying information, consequently they contact us for help. We had an inquiry today from a man who had inherited a Chinese Transitional style vase. Assuming it was Chinese he'd gotten conflicting reports about it's age and what it was.
Transitional Style Vase Inquiry From Canada
I reside in Canada and am the owner of two Chinese vases (pictured) that I have been trying to get identified and appraised for several years. No one that I’ve consulted thus far (Christie’s, Sotheby’s, etc.) seem to believe me when I tell them these vases are at least 100 years old. From the pictures I’ve sent, they quickly conclude that they are a maximum 50 years old even though they have been verifiably owned and maintained in my immediate family for more than 85 years. In fact, these items were first brought to Canada from Holland in 1954 when my grandparents immigrated. That circumstance alone proves they are more than 50 years old, and yet these items are known to have been passed down to my newly-married (but now long-deceased) grandparents. It is very plausible that these vases are at least one hundred years, and possibly quite older.
I am having difficulty trusting some of the “experts” now since no one can seem to tell me why they aren’t antique vases. They simply conclude that they are not without offering any supporting details. Your YouTube channel and website have at least provided me with some greater insight into the characteristics of antique Chinese pottery, so I believe you might have much better knowledge of their authenticity.
Can you help to identify them by any of their characteristics?
Chinese Transitional Style Vase Understandably Confuses Owner | Our Reply
For those of you who are familiar with Transitional vases, the shape and style of our inquirer's vase is instantly recognizable. I suspect you probably already know what my answer was. Regardless, read on and see if you agree.
I can see what the issue is regarding the vase, after reading your email and looking at the images.
The type is of form originally only done during China's “Transitional Period” in the mid 17 th C..
For comparison to yours, we've attached some images of authetic examples. The vase your grandparents brought over was made during the 20th C..
A few of the things that caught my eye right away. First, the cobalt blue is much too soft in tone and the foot very flat. Cobalt decorations used during the Transitional period ranged from a light to very deep sapphire blue tone. Yours does not. Also the foot rims on the originals were hand shaped and cleaned exposing unglazed areas both inside and usually outside of the foot. The drawing, lacks the fluidity seen on originals, yours appears a bit stiff and mechanical in execution. Lastly, the body of your vase is too white and lacks the little imperfections nearly always present on the originals.
My gut feeling is, the vase was probably made during the 1930’s to the late 1940’s and was most likely made in Europe. You mentioned your family immigrated from Holland. The Dutch in particular have been making copies of “Transitional “ pieces since they were introduced to them during the 1600’s. This tradition continued into the 20th C. including porcelain examples. The quality has always been very good and if made in porcelain can lead to all types of confusion. Copies of Chinese porcelain made in Europe also have a long history in France. In your case, given your family history I would lean towards Holland as the country of origin.
I hope you find this helpful.
Please comment about whether or not you agree.