An unusual small polychrome dish, Ming dynasty, third quarter of the 15th century

Lot 26. An unusual small polychrome dish, Ming dynasty, third quarter of the 15th century. Estimate 120,000 — 180,000 HKD (13,547 - 20,320 EUR). Lot sold 600,000 HKD (67,735   EUR). Photo: Sotheby's.

with rounded sides rising from a short foot to a flared rim, boldly painted in iron-red, green and turquoise enamels, the interior with a central medallion enclosing a makara dragon amongst scrolling clouds, the ferocious winged beast with mouth widely opened revealing its sharp fangs, all within double-line borders in iron red repeated at the rim, the exterior similarly decorated with two further makara dragons striding amongst clouds, the base with a stylised square seal mark reading zheng (‘authorised’ or ‘standard’) in iron red - 12.4 cm, 4 7/8  in.

ProvenanceBluett & Sons Ltd, London, 1930s.
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. R.H.R. Palmer (no. 505), from the 1930s to 1962 (£21).
Sotheby's London, 27th November 1962, lot 51 (£180). 
Bluett & Sons Ltd, London, 1962 (£180).
Collection of Roger Pilkington (1928-69), from 1962 (£180).

ExhibitedThe Arts of the Ming Dynasty, The Oriental Ceramic Society, London 1957, cat. no. 186.

LiteratureSoame Jenyns, Ming Pottery and Porcelain, London, 1953, pl. 64a. 
Adrian Joseph, Ming Porcelains: Their Origins and Development, London, 1971, pl. 66.     

NoteNotable for its playful rendering of a makara dragon, this dish appears to be related in both style and palette to a group of porcelain wares painted with winged dragons flying amongst clouds and with a shang yong [‘for noble use’] mark on the base. A dish of this type is illustrated in Jan Wirgin, ‘Ming Wares in the Lauritzen Collection’, The Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities Bulletin, vol. 37, 1965, pl. 8, no. 13a.

Further related examples include a dish from the Sir Percival David collection and now in the British Museum, London, published in Margaret Medley, Illustrated Catalogue of Ming Polychrome Wares, London, rev. ed., 1996, pl. 761; another from the Avery Brundage collection, included in the exhibition Ming Porcelain. A Retrospective, China House Gallery, New York, 1970, cat. no. 40; two from the collection of Sir A.A. Aykroyd, sold in our London rooms, 17th May 1966, lots 19 and 20; and a bowl illustrated in Sekai tōji zenshū [Catalogue of world’s ceramics], vol. 11, Tokyo, 1955, col. pl. 14.

Sotheby's. The Pilkington Collection of Chinese Art, Hong Kong, 06 Apr 2016