A rare blue and white dish. Yuan dynasty. Photo Sotheby's
boldly painted in the center in tones of inky-blue with a long-legged peahen with outstretched wings, elegantly craning its neck amidst a peony bough issuing leaves and lush blossoms, encircled at the shallow cavetto by a broad lotus scroll and a border of cresting waves on the barbed everted rim. Diameter 17 1/2 in., 44.5 cm. Estimate 80,000-120,000 USD
LITERATURE: Toji taikei, vol. 41, Tokyo, 1974, pl. 48.
NOTE: The present boldly painted and finely potted dish represents the height of ceramics production during the Yuan dynasty, when there was no limit to the artistic expression that went into the making of blue and white wares. While vessels decorated with the attractive design of a single peahen are rare, a large dish painted in the center in vivid cobalt-blue with a similar peahen sold in our London rooms, 10th June 1986, lot 217, is illustrated and discussed in John Carswell, Blue and White, Chinese Porcelain and Its Impact on the Western World, Chicago, 1985, p. 20, fig. 3, where the author attributes the piece to the first half of the fourteenth century. Carswell also notes that firing techniques used at Jingdezhen in the Yuan dynasty were 'sufficiently sophisticated to be able to tackle the problems posed by the larger pieces'. Vessels of this impressive large size were the result of the technical perfection achieved with the making of large white-glazed wares and the availability of precious cobalt for decoration from the 14th century.
More common are blue and white dishes of this type decorated with a pair of phoenix amongst flower scrolls; see one illustrated in Sekai toji zenshu, vol. 11, Tokyo, 1955, fig. 6; and another painted with phoenix among peonies in the center, included in Toji taikei, vol. 41, Tokyo, 1974, pl. 49. Compare also examples decorated with pheasants, such as the dish in the Topkapi Saray Museum, Istanbul, illustrated in Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics in the Topkapi Saray Museum, Istanbul, London, 1986, pl. 562, together with a large dish of this type bearing a single phoenix with long foliate tail hovering among rocks and bamboo, pl. 564. A related dish painted with a medallion depicting two flying phoenix was sold in our London rooms, 11th July 1978, lot 185; and another, also decorated with a pair of phoenix in flight amid lotus blooms, was sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 3rd May 1994, lot 623A
Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art. New York | 20 Mar 2012 www..sothebys.com