A copper-red 'three fish' stem bowl, Yongzheng six-character mark and of the period (1723-1735)

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Lot 20. A copper-red 'three fish' stem bowl, Yongzheng six-character mark and of the period (1723-1735). Estimate £6,000 - 8,000 (€6,700 - 8,900). Sold for £ 12,500 (€ 14,259). Photo Bonhams.

The wide bowl with slightly everted rim supported on a hollow slightly tapered stem, decorated around the exterior in underglaze-red with three fish, the six-character mark in underglaze-blue inside the foot. 15.3cm (6in) diam.

Provenance: Walter Thomas Gaze Cooper (1895-1981), and thence by descent.

Walter Thomas Gaze Cooper (1895-1981)

Gaze Cooper, as he was known, was a prolific composer and musician, writing his first serious piece, a piano concerto, in 1923. He studied at the Royal College of Music and his many compositions included four piano concertos, eight symphonies, an opera and many piano pieces.

His other great passion in life was collecting Egyptian, Chinese and Greek art and antiquities. Gaze Cooper's collection was most impressive and Sir Mortimer Wheeler, the famed archaeologist, often spoke of a rare artefact saying that 'there are only two of its kind, one in the British Museum and the other in the Gaze Cooper collection'. In 1950 he was pictured in the Nottingham Evening News, holding a Tang figure of Guanyin. 

Gaze Cooper was a piano and theory teacher throughout his life, still teaching at the age of 85 a few weeks before he died. He taught at the Midland Conservatoire of Music and later at a studio in Nottingham and in his home in Long Eaton. His pupils were of all ages and he was well known for his charisma, enthusiasm, and quirky ways, which endeared him to many. He was however a hard task master expecting nothing less than his own commitment in others. 

His pupils sometimes came face to face with his Asian art collection as he often took a piece to place on the piano in his studio to help him feel at home. Always willing to share his knowledge, he enjoyed giving lectures locally where he would take prized objects with him to talk about. 

In 1933 he founded the Midland Conservatoire of Music Symphony Orchestra which become the Nottingham Symphony Orchestra (NSO) in 1942 and is still going strong today. 

Compare a related copper-red stem bowl, Yongzheng six-character mark and of the period, formerly in the Meiyintang Collection, illustrated by R.Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, London, 2010, Vol.IV(II), p.240, no.1717, later sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong on 8 April 2013, lot 36.

A fine Ming-style copper-red decorated 'three fish' stembowl, Mark and period of Yongzheng

 A fine Ming-style copper-red decorated 'three fish' stembowl, Mark and period of Yongzheng. Estimate 700,000 — 900,000 HKD. Lot sold 1,720,000 at Sotheby's Hong Kong, The Meiyintang Collection, on 8 April 2013, lot 36. Photo Sotheby's.