A wucai 'dragon ' chess jar, Wanli mark and period



Lot 334. A wucai 'dragon' chess jar, Wanli mark and period (1573-1620); 14cm., 5 1/2 in. Estimate 40,000 - 60,000 GBP. Lot sold 91,250 GBP. Photo Sotheby's

heavily potted with a squat ovoid body, the exterior painted with blue and red dragons pacing above turbulent waves in pursuit of flaming pearls, the rim with a meandering foliate scroll and the foot with a band of florets on cresting waves, the central countersunk base inscribed with a six-character Wanli mark within a double-circle, Japanese wood box. Quantité: 2 

Provenance: A Japanese Private Collection.

Note: A closely related example from the Stanley Herzman collection, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, is published in Suzanne G. Valenstein, The Herzman Collection of Chinese Ceramics, Hong Kong, 1992, pl. 85; one with its original cover in the Shanghai Museum is illustrated in The Complete Works of Chinese Ceramics, vol. 13, Shanghai, 2000, pl. 120; and another was offered at Christie’s Hong Kong 27th November 2007, lot 1748. Compare also a blue and white decorated version from the collection of C.P. Lin, included in the exhibition Elegant Form and Harmonious Decoration, Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, London, 1992, cat. no. 90. A slightly smaller jar of this form and with a cover, but decorated with dancing figures, in the Idemitsu collection, is published in Chinese Ceramics in the Idemitsu Collection, Tokyo, 1987, pl. 748; and another, from the Jingguantang collection, was sold at Christie’s London, 15th November 2000, lot 32.

Barrel-Shaped Jar, Ming dynasty (1368–1644), Wanli mark and period (1573–1620)

Barrel-Shaped Jar, Ming dynasty (1368–1644), Wanli mark and period (1573–1620). Porcelain painted in underglaze blue and overglaze polychrome enamels. Diam. of rim: 5 3/8 in. (13.7 cm). Gift of Stanley Herzman, in memory of Adele Herzman, 1991; 1991.253.55 © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

While the subject and style of decoration is characteristic of Wanli imperial wares, the band of decoration encircling the base is uncommon. This motif of flower heads floating on ripples of water is known as luo hua liu shui (Falling flowers on flowing water) and first appeared on Chenghua ceramics. It references flowers falling from trees in the late-Spring into the rivers which are still overflowing from the melted snow from the mountains.  The theme appears to have originated in Tang dynasty poetry and music and inspired the work of painters, writers and potters from the Song period.

Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art. London, 07 nov. 2012