A fine cloisonné enamel tripod censer, Ming dynasty, 15th century - Sotheby's
the cylindrical body rising from three ruyi-shaped feet to an everted rim, flanked by a pair of upright scrolled handles, the exterior brightly decorated against a turquoise ground with leafy scrolling lotus, the base and the rim gilt; 33.3cm., 13 1/8 in. Estimation: 80,000 - 120,000 GBP
PROVENANCE: Bluett & Sons, London, 4th June 1985.
Collection of Juan Jose Amezaga.
Christie's Paris, 13th June 2007, lot 1.
NOTE: The present censer is striking and unusual for its large size which is uncommon for early-Ming cloisonné enamel wares. Its robust form and clarity of decoration, achieved through the use of primary colours and a simple, regulated composition, are characteristic of the finest 15th century wares. The possible pair to this censer is on permanent display at the Bristol City Art Gallery no. Or N8195 and has a two-character inscription lou shang (upper floor) to the inside of one leg which may relate to its location within the palace.
A closely related vessel, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated in Zhongguo jin yin boli falang qi quanji, vol. 5, Shijiazhuang, 2002, pl. 20, together with a similar censer, but with side gilt-bronze handles cast in the form of dragons and with a cover, pl. 19. See also a censer of this type, but with later added gilt-metal handles in the form of stylised birds, from the Charles Rochard collection and now in the Musée des Arts Decoratifs, Paris, included in the Oriental
Ceramic Society exhibition The Arts of the Ming Dynasty, London, 1957, cat. no. 317, and the exhibition Cloisonné. Chinese Enamels from the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties, Bard Graduate Centre, New York, 2011, cat. no. 22.
The scrolling lotus design on this piece has been inspired by Tibetan Buddhist motifs which gained much popularity amongst the court from the reign of the Yongle emperor. The swooping C-shaped leafy branches and large lotus blooms closely resemble that found on contemporary blue-and-white ware and indicates the close relationship between porcelain production and vessels made from other media for the court.
Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art. London | 15 mai 2013, www.sothebys.com