Lot 24. A Fine and Rare Underglaze-Blue and Iron-Red 'Dragon' Dish, Mark and Period of Kangxi (1662-1722); 18.2 cm., 7 1/8 in. Estimate 1,000,000 - 1,500,000 HKD. Lot sold 1,340,000 HKD. Photo Sotheby's 2012
the shallow rounded sides rising from a slightly tapered foot to a gently flared rim, brightly decorated in underglaze blue against a contrasting iron-red ground, the interior with a central medallion enclosing a five-clawed dragon writhing above a tempestuous sea, its mouth wide open and its powerful scaly body issuing flames, the undulating waves detailed with deeper red striations, the foaming crests reserved in white and shaded in a paler red, all within blue double lines repeated at the rim, the inner walls left white, the outside decorated with three similar blue dragons striding above red crested waves, the base inscribed with a six-character reign mark within a double ring in underglaze blue.
Provenance: Christie’s Hong Kong, 26th April 2004, lot 959.
Literature: Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, London, 1994-2010, vol. 4, no. 1722.
Note: The dragon design is rarely seen in this colour scheme and is much more common in reverse, with a red dragon among blue waves. The combination seen on this dish was, however, already in use in the early Ming period; compare an apparently unmarked dish from the Qing court collection and still preserved in the Palace Museum, Beijing, attributed to the Xuande reign (AD 1426-35), with an additional key-fret border at the rim on the exterior, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Blue and White Porcelain with Underglazed Red, vol. 1, Shanghai, 2000, pl. 228. Another unmarked dish of this design attributed to the late 15th century was in the British Rail Pension Fund collection, sold in these rooms, 16th May 1989, lot 25, and illustrated in Sotheby’s Hong Kong -Twenty Years, 1973-1993, Hong Kong, 1993, pl. 155.
Another Kangxi version of this pattern is in the Art Institute of Chicago, included in the exhibition Masterpieces of Chinese Arts from the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka, 1989, cat. no. 92; another was included in the exhibition Chinese Porcelain. The S.C. Ko Tianminlou Collection, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1987, cat. no. 94. Compare also a variant of this design, with a spurious Chenghua mark and with nine blue dragons among red waves on the reverse, from the Gulexuan collection, illustrated in Regina Krahl with Clarissa von Spee, Chinese Ceramics from the Gulexuan Collection, Lünen, 2003, cat. no. 112.
Sotheby's. The Meiyintang Collection, Part IV - An Important Selection of Imperial Chinese Porcelains, Hong Kong, 09 oct. 2012