Lot 37. Property from the Cunliffe Collection. A rare underglaze-blue yellow-ground 'gardenia' saucer dish, Zhengde six-character mark and of the period (1506-1521); 19.8cm (7 7/8in) diam. Sold for £230,500 (€292,668). Photo: Bonhams.
With shallow rounded sides, freely painted in shaded tones of cobalt blue reserved on a rich yellow ground, the interior with a central medallion depicting a single leafy branch bearing two five-petalled gardenia blooms and a bud emerging from the top, encircled on the cavetto by fruiting branches of pomegranate, grape, peach and a beribboned lotus bouquet, all between double line borders, the underside with a continuous scroll of blooming peonies between double lines at the rim and foot, the recessed base with a six-character reign mark within a double circle.
Provenance: Rolf, Lord Cunliffe (1899-1963), Honorary Keeper of the Far Eastern Collections at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Acquired from Peter Boode, London, 22 May 1947
The Cunliffe Collection, no.PM76, and thence by descent
Exhibited: The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 1950-1956
Note: Dishes depicting gardenia designs in cobalt blue on a yellow ground were produced from the Xuande through to the Jiajing reigns. Examples dating to the Zhengde period, however, are very rare. Highly regarded for its auspicious symbolism underscoring wishes for honour and happiness, the gardenia is combined with peaches and grapes; both symbolic of longevity, lotus and pomegranate, conveying the wish for fertility; and peonies, symbolic for wealth and happiness.
A closely related dish is illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Blue and White Porcelain with Underglaze Red, Hong Kong, 2000, pl.23. Another is included in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, accession no. 19.28.10; see also from the Percival David Collection of Chinese Art, illustrated in Oriental Ceramics. The World's Great Collections, New York, 1983, vol. 5, pl. 187; another was included in the exhibition, Born of Earth and Fire, Chinese Ceramics from the Scheinman Collection, The Baltimore Museum of Art, 1992, no.81; one is illustrated by R.Krahl, Chinese Ceramics From The Meiyintang Collection, london, 1994, vol.2, no.681. A similar dish was sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 28 November 2012, lot 2209.