A Qingbai lobed wine ewer, cover and bowl, Northern Song dynasty

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Lot 14. A Qingbai lobed wine ewer, cover and bowl, Northern Song dynastyEstimate 500,000 — 700,000. Lot sold 1,187,500 HKD. Photo: Sotheby's.

the ewer well potted with a body divided into eight lobes by grooves and resting on a slightly splayed foot of corresponding form, surmounted by an angled shoulder encircled with a border of lotus lappets and a tubular neck, one side with an arched strap handle extending from the neck to the lower shoulder, opposite a slender curved spout issuing from the shoulder and detailed with incisions extending onto the body, the tall cover with a stepped top and a finial in the form of a mythical beast, resting on sides modelled as overlapping lotus petals, the deep rounded sides of the bowl similarly divided into eight lobes and incised with floral motifs, all supported on a splayed foot decorated with overlapping petals, the exterior of the vessels and cover thinly veiled with a translucent pale blue glaze pooling to a deeper colour in the recessed areas; ewer and cover 22 cm, 8 5/8  in., bowl 15.2 cm, 6 in.

ProvenanceCollection of the Chang Foundation, Taipei

Literature: James Spencer (comp.), Selected Chinese Ceramics from Han to Qing Dynasties, Chang Foundation, Taipei, 1990, cat. no. 56.

NoteQingbai-glazed ewers with their matching warming bowls were popular among the gentry of the Northern Song period (960-1127). The present piece is particularly charming because of the expressively modelled lion on its cover, and rare due to its relief petal decoration. Numerous contemporary paintings depict ewers of this type, being used to serve wine; see for example three related ceramic ewers and their matching bowls portrayed in the hanging scroll Literary Gathering, attributed to the Huizong Emperor (r. 1101-1125), in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, illustrated in the catalogue to the Museum’s exhibition Precious as the Morning Star, Taipei, 2016, p. 41. Spur marks on the ewer corresponding to marks inside the bowl confirm that this group was conceived as a set.

A slightly smaller set of this type was sold in our New York rooms, 23rd March 2004, lot 619; another at Christie’s London, 12th December 1988, lot 16; and a third, lacking the relief petals on the shoulder and cover of the ewer and the foot of the bowl, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures in the Palace Museum. Porcelain of the Song Dynasty (II), Hong Kong, 1996, pl. 153, together with a warming bowl only, pl. 192. See also two related qingbaiewers and bowls excavated in Anhui province, one unearthed from the tomb of Wu Zhengchen and his wife in Susong county, Anhui province, datable to the second year of the Yuanyou period (1087), illustrated in Historical Relics Unearthed in New China, Beijing, 1972, pl. 175; the other, recovered from a tomb dated in accordance with 1086, published in Sekai tōji zenshū/ Ceramic Art of the World, vol. 12, Tokyo, 1977, pl. 152.   

Sotheby's. Song – Important Chinese Ceramics from the Le Cong Tang Collection, Hong Kong, 03 oct. 2017, 10:20 AM