A fine and rare black-ground and green enamelled dish, Mark and period of Yongzheng. Estimate 2,000,000 — 3,000,000 HKD (227,887 - 341,830 EUR). Photo Sotheby's.
delicately potted with shallow rounded sides resting on a short foot, the interior enamelled in translucent emerald-green with two finches perched on a gnarled branch, the scene detailed with two large peony blossoms and smaller floral buds borned on stems issuing from rockwork, the reverse similarly decorated in green enamel with a leafy lingzhi scroll, all against a black ground, the white base inscribed in underglaze-blue with a six-character reign mark within a double-circle, wood stand; 14.9 cm., 5 7/8 in.
Provenance: A private English collection.
Littleton & Hennessy Asian Art, London, 2006.
Bibliography: Littleton & Hennessy Asian Art, London, 2006, cat. no. 15, front cover.
Note: This striking dish, with its vibrant green silhouette-like design against a glossy black ground, belongs to a small group of green and black wares produced during the Yongzheng period. The technique has its origins in Kangxi wares, traditionally classified as famille-noire which was an extension of famille-verte decoration on which the enamels were set against a black ground. These green and black wares were created by covering the overall dish in translucent green enamel before reserving the design and adding fine details with black pigment. By the Yongzheng period this technique had become more refined through a finer porcelain body and layering the black to produce the glossy opaque effect as seen on the present dish. Few examples of these wares exist due to the difficulty in production.
A closely related dish, and possibly the pair to the present piece, was sold at Christie's London, 9th November 2004, lot 179. Further dishes belonging to this set include a pair, decorated with a flowering prunus branch extending across the interior and a lotus meander supporting the bajixiang on the exterior, sold in these rooms, 23rd May 1975, lot 164; and another pair, from the collection of Stephen Junkunc III, sold at Christie's New York, 21st September 2000, lot 400, now in the Wang Xing Lou collection, included in the exhibition Imperial Perfection. The Palace Porcelain of Three Chinese Emperors, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, 2004, cat. no. 32. A slightly larger pair of dishes depicting insects crawling amongst peony and chrysanthemum branches was sold in our London rooms, 6th July 1971, lot 230, and again at Christie's London, 6th November 2007, lot 180. Compare also a similarly decorated dish, but decorated with a central panel depicting a bird amongst flowers and surrounded by a flowerscroll band, published in John Ayers, Chinese Ceramics in the Baur Collection, vol. 2, Geneva, 1999, pl. 206.
For a Kangxi mark and period prototype, see a brushwasher, from the collections of J.M. Hu and Gerald M. Greenwald, sold twice at Christie's Hong Kong, 30th October 1995, lot 721, and 1st December 2010, lot 2814. This technique continued under the Qianlong emperor; see a large dish painted with birds and butterflies amongst trees within a more complex design of the bajixiang and lotus meander, sold at Christie's London, 5th June 1995, lot 210, and again in these rooms, 10th April 2006, lot 1520.
Sotheby's. Imperial Porcelain and Works of Art from a Hong Kong Private Collection, Hong Kong, 07 avr. 2015, 10:15 AM