A very rare blue and white peach-shaped 'boys' ewer, Jiajing six-character mark and of the period. Estimate £70,000 - 90,000 (€96,000 - 120,000). Photo: Bonhams.
The compressed globular body rising from a straight foot to a waisted neck and galleried rim, with applied loop handle and curved square spout, the body relief moulded on both sides with peach medallions enclosing scenes of boys at play in luxuriant gardens, surrounded by peach and peony sprays sparsely painted in vibrant cobalt tones on the fine white porcelain body, all beneath a hatched-pattern border at the rim and beside scrolling designs to the handle and spout.22.5cm (8 7/8in) high
Provenance: T.T.Tsui Collection (label)
Christie's London, 16 November 1998, lot 72
S. Marchant & Son Ltd., London (label)
Notes: The motif of many boys playing together as well as the peach-shaped panels symbolise longevity. The image is an expression of the desire for fertility and a strong, productive family to continue the ancestral rites in the Confucian tradition. The 'boys at play' decoration is a continuation of the design used during the Chenghua period, as demonstrated by a blue and white bowl, Chenghua mark and of the period, illustrated by R.Krahl, ed., The Emperor's Broken China: Reconstructing Chenghua Porcelain, London, 1995, pl.54.
Compare with a very similar ewer and cover, in the Percival David Foundation, illustrated by R.Krahl and J.Harrison-Hall,Chinese Ceramics: Highlights of the Sir Percival David Collection, London, 2009, p.78, no.39. This ewer was formerly in the Charles Russell Collection, when it was illustrated by R.L.Hobson, C.B.B.Rackham and W.King, Chinese Ceramics in Private Collections, London, 1931, p.174, fig.318, where it was noted by the authors that it was once in the imperial collection in Beijing. Another similar ewer but without a cover is in the Idemitsu Museum of Arts, illustrated in the 15th Anniversary Exhibition, Catalogue, no.802, p.196.
Other related ewers but depicting different scenes within the panels are included in the Min Chiu Society Exhibition of an Anthology of Chinese Ceramics, Hong Kong Museum of Art, 1980, Catalogue no.85, which has ladies and attendants in a garden; and the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, illustrated by D. Lion-Goldschmidt, Ming Porcelain, London, 1979, pl.122, painted with dragons.
Bonhams. FINE CHINESE ART, 14 May 2015 10:00 BST - LONDON, NEW BOND STREET