A blue and white pen box and cover, Zhengde mark and period

Lot 208. A blue and white pen box and cover, Zhengde mark and period  (1506-1521); 21cm., 8 ¼ in. Estimate 30,000 — 50,000 GBP. Lot sold 80,500. Photo Sotheby's.

of rectangular form, supported on a stepped foot, the top of the cover and the box similarly decorated with Arabic roundels alternating with stylised lotus sprays, the rim of the cover and the foot encircled by ruyi bands, inscribed at the base with a six-character reign mark within a double-rectangle. Quantité: 2.

Note: Boxes of this type, decorated with Arabic and Persian inscriptions, belong to a small group of porcelain wares for the scholar’s desk produced during the Zhengde period.  Sir Harry Garner, in Oriental Blue and White, London, 1973, pp 29-30, suggests that these finely potted wares were made for the domestic market, and were possibly kept in the offices of the powerful Muslim eunuchs that lived at court who were versed in the two languages.

A closely related box from the Sir Percival David collection, and now in the British Museum, London, is illustrated in Jessica Harrison-Hall, Catalogue of Late Yuan and Ming Ceramics in the British Museum, British Museum, London, 2001, pl. 8.5, together with a similarly decorated Zhengde mark and period ink slab similarly decorated, pl. 8.6; another box from the collection of Ernest Grandidier, and now in the Musée Guimet, Paris, is published in Xavier Besse, La Chine des Porcelaines, Musée Guimet, Paris, 2004, pl. 16; and a third example in the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, is illustrated in Sir Harry Garner, Oriental Blue and White, op. cit., pl. 43a. See also a Jiajing mark and period box of this type, in the Capital Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Works of Chinese Ceramics. Ming, vol. 12, Shanghai, 1999, pl. 173; and another sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 31st October 1994, lot. 554. 

Porcelain rectangular pen box and cover with underglaze blue decoration, Ming dynasty, Zhengde mark and period (1506-1521)

Porcelain rectangular pen box and cover with underglaze blue decoration, Ming dynasty, Zhengde mark and period  (1506-1521). Height: 9 cm (with cover), Length: 20 cm, Width: 11 cm. The Seligman Collection of Oriental Art, 973,0726.364.a-b © Trustees of the British Museum

Inscription Translation: 'Blindness does not benefit mankind; the fool finds no contentment; wisdom causes weakness to flee' (translated by Dr Venetia Porter).

Boîte écritoire à décor stylisé, Marque et Période de Zhengde (1506-1521)

Boîte écritoire à décor stylisé, Marque et Période de Zhengde (1506-1521), Chine, fours de Jingdezhen, porcelaine dure, décor bleu et blanc sous couverte. Hauteur : 0.11 m. Largeur : 0.25 m. Collection Ernest Grandidier. G4558. Paris, musée Guimet - musée national des Arts asiatiquesPhoto © RMN-Grand Palais (musée Guimet, Paris) / Thierry Ollivier

Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art, London | 14 mai 2014