Lot 116. A fine and rare lemon-yellow cup, Mark and period of Yongzheng (1723-1735); 6.3 cm., 2 1/2 in. Estimate 900,000 — 1,200,000 HKD (102,614 - 136,819 EUR). Lot sold 2,480,000 HKD. Photo: Sotheby's.
delicately potted with deep rounded sides supported on a short foot, the exterior covered with a vibrant lemon-yellow enamel stopping neatly at the foot, the base inscribed in underglaze blue with a four-character reign mark within a double-square.
Provenance: Sotheby's Hong Kong, 28th/29th November 1978, lot 135.
Note: Yongzheng porcelain cups of this small size, inscribed with four-character reign marks which conform to the smaller area of the base, are extremely rare. Monochrome vessels of this type, deceptively simple in form and colour, represent one of the most technically challenging porcelains to be produced. They required absolute precision in potting, glazing and firing, as the smallest imperfection resulted in the destruction of the piece. Amongst all the different monochrome glazes, yellow is the only colour that has direct Imperial association. Although imperial yellow-glazed wares had been produced from the early Ming dynasty, they were used exclusively for ritual ceremonies; thus lemon-yellow vessels provided the court with an alternative for daily use. The yellow glaze was derived from an antimoniate oxide and the lemon-yellow glaze was a Yongzheng innovation achieved when the antimoniate of iron was combined with tin oxide resulting in an opaque yellow glaze of brilliant hue.
A Yongzheng cup with the more commonly found six-character reign mark, from the collection of Dr. Ip Yee, sold in these rooms, 19th November 1984, lot 218, was included in the Min Chiu Society exhibition An Anthology of Chinese Ceramics, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1980, cat. no. 128. Compare also another pair of this type in the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm, illustrated by Jan Wirgin, Chinese Ceramics from the Axel and Nora Lundgren Bequest, Stockholm, 1978, pl. 79.
Compare also the ruby-red cup sold in these rooms, 4th May 1994, lot 99 and again, from the Leshantang Collection, 11th April 2008, lot 2502, and offered in this sale, lot 117.
Sotheby's. Yongzheng – The Age of Harmony and Integrity, Hong Kong, 07 avr. 2015