Chinese porcelain blue and white sleeve vase, painted with Han Xin escaping at night on horseback and being pursued by Xiao He and his cohorts, all in a continuous mountain river landscape scene with Han Xin speedily riding away beside a lake beneath the moon and stars, with Xiao He on his horse behind a rock, together with his attendant holding a lantern and two foot soldiers in the foreground amongst rockwork, cloud scrolls, plants and v-shape grass and beneath an anhua scrolling band of flowers and leaves within two pairs of incised lines, the neck with flowers, scrolls and precious objects, and above a further anhua band at the foot, the base unglazed revealing the biscuit body, the blue of excellent tone.

10 inches, 25.5 cm high; 3 ¼ inches, 8.2 cm wide.

Transitional, circa 1640.

Provenance & Additional Information

  • Sold by Sotheby’s London in their auction of Fine Chinese Ceramics, Jades and Works of Art, 11th July 1972, lot 102, p. 31, illustrated opposite, purchased by Douglas J. K. Wright, Curzon Street.
  • Sold by Sotheby’s London in their auction of Fine Chinese and Korean Ceramics and Works of Art, 3rd April 1979, lot 174, p. 102, The Property of a Gentleman, illustration p. 115, purchased by Marchant.
  • Included by Marchant in their exhibition of Chinese Blue and White – Wan Li to K’ang Hsi, July 1980, no. 16.
  • From the collection of the late Martin Robert Morland, CMG (1933-2020), purchased from Marchant 13th July 1980.

Martin Morland was born in Japan while his father, Sir Oscar Charles Morland, GBE, KCMG (1904-1980) was Ambassador to Japan and Indonesia, and was descended from the Barons Lindley and the Fraser and Lords Lovat. He served in the Grenadier Guards, was Counsellor and Head of Chancery in Washington (1979-1982), Under Secretary at the Cabinet Office (1984-1986), the Ambassador to Burma (1986-1990), and Ambassador and UK Permanent Representative to the Office of the United Nations in Geneva (1990-1993).

  • Sold by Semley Auctions, Shaftsbury, 7th November 2020, lot 299, from the collection of the late Martin Robert Morland.
  • The story is recorded in Sima Qian’s Shiji (Records of Grand History) and would have resonated strongly with many scholar-officials during the late Ming dynasty, who felt their talents to serve in the government were not being appreciated under the waning Ming Empire. In this scene, Han Xin was not impressed with his high superior Liu Bang, who had put him in charge of food supplies. He became so discontented that he attempted to flee under the cover of darkness. Xiao He, one of Liu Bang’s chief advisors, was aware of Han Xin’s talents. Once he heard that Han Xin had left, he immediately chased after him to bring him back, whereupon Han Xin was promoted to the rank of General and later together with Liu Bang founded the Han dynasty.
  • Similar subject matter is on a baluster vase illustrated in Seventeenth Century Chinese Porcelain from the Butler Family Collection, no. 37, p. 78 and on a brush pot sold by Bonham’s London in their auction of Fine Chinese Art, 9th November 2017, lot 281.


Excellent condition.