An Exceptionally Rare Blue and White Moonflask. Ming Dynasty, Yongle Period. Photo Sotheby's

the compressed spherical body convex on the front and back sides, resting on a very low oval foot, rising to a slender bulbous neck, flanked on the sides with strap handles with raised central ribs and a leaf-shaped terminal enclosing peony and camellia sprays, painted to the main sides with a formal lotus spray with four blooms, two buds and a stylised leaf in a quatrefoil panel, surrounded by sprigs of flowering pomegranate, camellia, chrysanthemum and peony within a 'classic' scroll border, the narrow sides left plain, the neck collared by bands of 'classic' scroll, chevrons and key-fret; 30.7 cm., 12 1/8 in. ESTIMATE 6,000,000-8,000,000 HKD

EXHIBITED: Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, The British Museum, London, 1994.
Evolution to Perfection. Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection/Evolution vers la perfection. Céramiques de Chine de la Collection Meiyintang, Sporting d’Hiver, Monte Carlo, 1996, cat. no. 113,

LITERATURE: Nuno de Castro, A cerâmica e a porcelana Chinesas [Chinese pottery and porcelain], Porto, 1992, vol. 2, P. 26, pI. 16.
Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, London, 1994-2010, vol. 2, no. 661.

NOTE: This fiask appears to be unique, and any flasks of this form painted with designs other than the weli-known formai rosette are very rare. A flask in the Sir Percival David Collection in the British Museum, London, painted with a peony spray in a similar symmetrical arrangement, is illustrated in Oriental Ceramics. The World’s Great Collections, Tokyo, New York, San Francisco, 1980-82, vol. 6, no. 75.

Two blue-and-white flasks of this form with the weII-known rosette design were inciuded in the exhibition Jingdezhen chutu Ming chu guanyao ciqi/lmperial Hongwu and Yongle Porcelain Excavated at Jingdezhen, Chang Foundation, Taipei, 1996, cat. no. 65, with an oval foot, and attributed to the Yongle period, and cat. no. 134, with a square foot, attributed to the Xuande reign, as well as a plain white Yongle example without a foot, cat. no. 91.

This distinctive lotus design s better known from flasks and vases of different form; see, for exampie, a moonfiask with similar lotus scrolls from the Bishu Shanzhuang (‘Mountain Villa to Escape the Heat’), the summer retreat of the Qing Emperors in Chengde, north of Beijing, pubiished in Zhongguo taoci quanji [Complete series on Chinese ceramics], Shanghai, 1999-2000, vol. 12, pi. 17; as well as a large flask and a bottie vase in the National Palace Museum, Taiwan, included in the Museum’s exhibition Mingdai chunian ciqi tezhan mulu/Catalogue ofa Special Exhibition of Early Ming Period Porcelain, Taipel, 1982, cat. nos. 3 and 4. The development of this lotus design can be observed on a siightly later, much larger flask inscribed with a Xuande reign mark, aiso in the British Museum, published in Jessica Harrison-Hali, Ming Ceramics in the British Museum, London, 2001, pI. 4:16.

Sotheby's. The Meiyintang Collection, Part II - An Important Selection of Chinese Porcelains. Hong Kong 5 october 2011