A large documentary polychrome-glazed pottery tripod censer, Wanli, dated 1589 and of the period
Raised on three monster-mask legs, the body deftly carved in high relief around the exterior with a pair of confronted dragons amidst a single blossoming lotus flower on one side, and scrolling lotus flowers on the reverse, the front of the rim with an inscription dating it to a festive day of the 12th month of the 16th year of the Wanli Emperor, each upright handle with dedicatory inscription, together with wood stand and domed wood cover carved with eight trigrams and surmounted by a jade finial. The censer 37.2cm (14½in) high. (3). Estimate: £8,000 - 10,000
Footnote: The current pottery-glazed tripod censer belongs to a group of similar wares which were produced during the Yuan and Ming dynasties. A similar example in the Metropolitan Museum of Art is dated to the seventh year of Zhengde, corresponding to 1512, as illustrated by S.C.Valenstein, A Handbook of Chinese Ceramics, New York, 1975, pl.96. Another example, thought to have been produced in Shanxi provence and dated to circa 1600-1644 is illustrated by J.Harrison-Hall, Ming Ceramics in the British Museum, London, 2001, fig.15:20.
A related example with an inscription dating to 1607 was sold at Christie's New York, 25 March 1998, lot 195, and another slightly later example, dated to 1612, from the Falk Collection was sold in the same rooms, 16 October 2001, lot 150.
Bonhams. Fine Chinese Art, 14 May 2009. New Bond Street www.bonhams.com