A fine and very rare iron-red ground blue and white dish, Jiajing six-character mark within double-circles and of the period (1522-1566)

Lot 4064. A fine and very rare iron-red ground blue and white dish, Jiajing six-character mark within double-circles and of the period (1522-1566), 4 7/8 in. (12.5 cm.) diam. Estimate HKD 800,000 - HKD 1,200,000Price realised HKD 1,100,000 © Christie's Images Ltd 2012

The small dish is of shallow form resting on a short foot. It is finely painted within the well in purplish-blue cobalt with two Buddhist lions either side of a central beribboned brocade ball with auspicious treasures, zabao scattered around the well contained within double-line borders encircling the well and rim. The reverse is similarly decorated with four further Buddhist lions. The decoration is reserved on a vibrant tomato-red ground, box.

ProvenanceA Japanese private collection 

NoteThe theme of gamboling Buddhist lions is frequently seen on late Ming ceramics but usually less finely rendered. Compare two slightly smaller dishes in the British Museum decorated with the same decorative motif but omitting the zabao, decorated in green enamel on an iron-red ground, illustrated by J. Harrison-Hall, Ming Ceramics, London, 2001, p. 256, nos. 9:95 and 9:96. Another single dish of the same pattern, also with green enamel on an iron-red ground in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco is illustrated by He Li, Chinese Ceramics. A New Comprehensive Survey, London, 1996, no. 457. The decoration on these three examples is much looser and less controlled than on the present dish.

Porcelain dish with green enamel reserved on a red ground, Ming dynasty, Jiajing mark and period (1522-1566)

 Porcelain Lion dogs dish with green enamel reserved on a red ground, Ming dynasty, Jiajing mark and period (1522-1566), diam 15,5 cm, height 2,9 cm. Bequeathed by Henry J Oppenheim, 1947,0712.99 © 2017 Trustees of the British Museum

Porcelain Lion dogs dish with green enamel reserved on a red ground, Ming dynasty, Jiajing mark and period (1522-1566)

Porcelain Lion dogs dish with green enamel reserved on a red ground, Ming dynasty, Jiajing mark and period (1522-1566), diam 15,5 cm, height 2,9 cm. Donated by Sir Augustus Wollaston Franks, Franks.484.+ © 2017 Trustees of the British Museum

Dish with lions, Ming dynasty (1368-1644), Reign of the Jiajing emperor (1522-1566)

Dish with lions, Ming dynasty (1368-1644), Reign of the Jiajing emperor (1522-1566), China, Jiangxi province. White-glazed porcelain with overglaze enamel decoration. H. 1 1/8 in x Diam. 6 in, H. 2.9 cm x Diam. 15.2 cm. The Avery Brundage Collection, B60P2308 © 2017 Asian Art Museum Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture

Although a lot of experimentation took place with different colour combinations during the Jiajing period, the visually very pleasing combination of underglaze blue and iron-red is surprisingly rare and few extant examples are recorded.

Christie's. Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, 30 May 2012, Hong Kong, HKCEC Grand Hall