A rare yellow-ground turquoise and aubergine-glazed'dragon' dish. Wanli six-character mark within double-rectangles and of the period, (1573-1619). Photo Christies Ltd 2011
Decorated on the biscuit in turquoise, green and aubergine, with two confronted five-clawed scaly dragons with heads turned towards the rear divided by a band of clouds, above foaming waves crashing against rockwork, the cavetto with a band of six dragon roundels alternately ascending and descending, the exterior with sprays of peach, pomegranate, prunus and peony, all on a mustard-yellow ground; 11 in. (28 cm.) diam. Estimate £40,000 - £50,000 ($66,840 - $83,550)
Provenance: T.T. Tsui Collection, no. TS 1.
Notes: A dish of similar size and design in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, is illustrated in Porcelain of the National Palace Museum - Enamelled Ware of the Ming Dynasty, Book III, Cafa Company, Hong Kong, 1966, pp. 64-5, pls. 19a-b. For further examples of dishes with similar colour palette and decorated with dragons, see Ding Xujun, Ming qing you shang cai hui ci qi, Shanghai, 2004, no. 88., and another in the National Museum in China illustrated in Shanhai guji chu ban she, Studies of the Collections of the National Museum of China, Shanghai, 2007, no.103. Compare with another dish of the same design in the Percival David Foundation Collection, illustrated in Masterpieces of Chinese Ceramics from the Percival David Collection, Yomiuri Shimbun, Osaka, 1998, p. 95, no. 64. Another illustrated example of the same design can also be found in Pan Jialai, Zhongguo chuan tong ci qi, Beijing, 2006, p.57. See also the single dish sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 1 December 2010, lot 3120; and the pair of dishes sold in these rooms, 11 June 1990, lot 199.
The same distinctive palette can be seen on a Wanli-marked 'dragon' jar sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 26 April 2004, lot 1000; and also on an altar set in the British Museum illustrated by Jessica Harrison-Hall, Ming Ceramics in the British Museum, London, 2001, p. 341, nos. 11:170, 11:171 and 11:172.
Christie's. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art , 10 May 2011. London, King Street www.christies.com