Lot 66. A yellow and red 'Dragon' jar, mark and period of Jiajing (1522-1566); 13.5 cm., 5 3/8 in. Est. 2,000,000 — 3,000,000 HKD. Lot Sold 2,420,000 HKD. photo Sotheby's 2011
of baluster form with rounded shoulder and short straight neck, covered with a transparent and a yellow glaze and painted in black with two dragons among lingzhi scrolls between cloud motifs above and rocks among waves below, all reserved in yellow against an iron-red background, the base left white and inscribed in underglaze blue with an unbordered six-character reign mark.
Provenance: Eskenazi Ltd, London.
Exhibited: Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, The British Museum, London, 1994.
Evolution to Perfection. Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection/Evolution vers la perfection. Céramiques de Chine de la Collection Meiyintang, Sporting d'Hiver, Monte Carlo, 1996, cat. no. 131.
Literature: Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, London, 1994-2010, vol. 2, no. 706.
Note: Contrasting colours and longevity motifs are perhaps the two most characteristic features of Jiajing imperial porcelains. The juxtaposition of the imperial five-clawed dragon with sprays of longevity fungus, instead of the usual lotus scrolls, links the ruler in a most obvious symbolism to long life, and reflects the Jiajing Emperor's fervent pursuit of longevity and attachment to Daoist practises promising the attainment of immortality. The auspicious message is here carried through even in the colour scheme, where yellow, the imperial colour, is surrounded by red, the colour of good luck. Combinations of two different glaze colours are characteristic of the Jiajing reign, but the present one is a rare case where the two colours are superimposed and had to be fired at different times and different temperatures.
A jar of this design from the Avery Brundage collection in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco is illustrated in He Li, Chinese Ceramics. A New Standard Guide, London, 1996, pl. 483; another in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, was included in the Oriental Ceramic Society exhibition Iron in the Fire, Oxford, 1988, cat. no. 64; one in the Matsuoka Museum of Art, Tokyo, is illustrated in Tōyō tōji meihin zuroku [Catalogue of masterpieces of Oriental ceramics], Matsuoka Bijutsukan, Tokyo, 1991, cat. no. 82, Similar jars from the collections of Stephen D. Winkworth, George Eumorfopoulos and Mrs. Alfred Clark, respectively, were sold in our London rooms 25th April 1933, lot 382; 30th May 1940, lot 286; and 24th March 1953, lot 65; one from the collection of J.M. Hu was sold in our New York rooms, 4th June 1985, lot 7; one from the British Rail Pension Fund in these rooms, 12th May 1976, lot 51 and again 16th May 1989, lot 28.
Jar with dragons amid clouds, Ming dynasty (1368-1644), Reign of the Jiajing emperor (1522-1566), Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province. Porcelain with overglaze multicolor decoration. H. 5 1/2 in x Diam. 5 1/4 in, H. 14 cm x Diam. 13.3 cm. The Avery Brundage Collection, B60P1523 © 2017 Asian Art Museum Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture.
A Jiajing jar of this design with cover is compared with a Qianlong version, both from the Palace Museum collection in Beijing in Li Zhiyan, Virginia L. Bower and He Li, Chinese Ceramics from the Paleolithic Period through the Qing Dynasty, New Haven and London, 2010, p. 611.