A rare blue and white ‘dragon’ dish, Mark and period of Jiajing


Lot 32. A rare blue and white ‘dragon’ dish, Mark and period of Jiajing. Estimate 400,000 — 600,000 HKD ( 45,157 — 67,735 EUR). Lot Sold 3,680,000 HKD (415,441 EUR)Photo: Sotheby's.

the shallow rounded sides supported on a tapered foot, vividly painted to the interior in cobalt-blue with a central medallion enclosing a five-clawed dragon writhing amongst stylised cloud scrolls, its sinuous scaly body with muscular legs terminating in sharp claws, encircled by a pair of five-clawed dragons striding amongst cloud scrolls in pursuit of flaming pearls, the exterior similarly decorated with a further pair of dragons, all divided by double-line borders, the base inscribed with a six-character reign mark within a double circle - 18 cm, 7 1/8  in.

ProvenanceCollection of Mr. and Mrs. R.H.R. Palmer, until 1968. 
Sotheby's London, 28th May 1968, lot 94 (£450). 
Bluett & Sons Ltd, London, 1968 (£450).
Collection of Roger Pilkington (1928-69), from 1968.

LiteratureAdrian Joseph, Ming Porcelains: Their Origins and Development, London, 1971, pl. 48.

NoteThis dish is notable for its vigorous painting of a ‘plunging ‘dragon in vibrant cobalt. The scaly five-clawed dragon is rendered in a dramatic pose with its hind legs raised high above the body, emphasising its free-flowing movement. The motif was carefully laid out with areas of blue and white evenly distributed, creating a harmonious and almost symmetric balance.

Compare a closely related dish in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Blue and White Porcelain with Underglazed Red (II), Shanghai, 2000, pl. 116; and a slightly smaller one sold at Christie’s London, 20th/21st June 1984, lot 240. Dishes painted with similar dragon motifs are also found undecorated on the well and much larger in size, such as one from the collection of Holger Lauritzen, now in the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm, illustrated in Oriental Ceramics. The World’s Great Collections, vol. 8, Tokyo, 1982, pl. 235; and another sold in our London rooms, 14th July 1981, lot 88.

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