18 janvier 2018

A fine wucai 'Dragon and Phoenix' saucer, mark and period of Wanli (1573-1620)

A fine wucai 'Dragon and Phoenix' saucer, mark and period of Wanli (1573-1620)

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Lot 69. A fine wucai 'Dragon and Phoenix' saucer, mark and period of Wanli (1573-1620); 9.9 cm., 3 7/8 in. Estimate 600,000 — 800,000 HKD. Lot sold 800,000 HKD. Photo: Sotheby's 2011. 

with steep rounded sides and flared rim, painted in underglaze blue and red, yellow, green and black enamels with a five-clawed dragon and phoenix in flight circling around a 'flaming pearl' surrounded by small clouds, the inner sides with small fruit and flower sprays, the outside with books, scrolls, horns and other emblems with and without ribbons, and the base inscribed with the six-character reign mark in a double ring.

ProvenanceCollection of Harcourt Johnstone (1895-1945).
Collection of Mr and Mrs R.H.R. Palmer.
Sotheby's London, 27th November 1962, lot 48.
Collection of Neil F. Phillips QC, Montreal.
Reach Family Collection.
Eskenazi Ltd, London.

ExhibitedChinese Art from the Reach Family Collection, Eskenazi Ltd, London, 1989, cat. no. 44 (illustrated).

LiteratureRegina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, London, 1994-2010, vol. 2, no. 729.

Note: This bright palette and the dragon-and-phoenix design, symbolizing Emperor and Empress, are classic features of Wanli imperial porcelain. This small piece is a particularly nice example, more carefully painted than most larger dishes and slightly unusual in its colour scheme, where blue and red dominate and green and yellow are used only sparingly. 

A similar saucer from the collection of Hans Öström, Stockholm, was sold at Christie's London, 11th July 2006, lot 145. A slightly larger, broken example in the Palace Museum, Beijing, with dragons and phoenixes also around the inner sides and the flower sprays instead on the reverse, is published in Geng Baochang, ed., Gugong Bowuyuan cang gu taoci ciliao xuancui [Selection of ancient ceramic material from the Palace Museum], Beijing, 2005, vol. 1, pl. 200; another pair of slightly larger dishes with the same design but painted in a different manner, from the Songde Tang collection, was included in the exhibition Fame of FlameImperial Wares of the Jiajing and Wanli Periods, University Museum and Art Gallery, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2009-10, cat. no. 112.

Harcourt Johnstone was a British politician, whose Chinese collection was largely sold at Sotheby's London, 13th June 1940. According to the catalogue, his entire collection had been exhibited on loan in the principal provincial museums in the United Kingdom.

Sotheby's. The Meiyintang Collection - An Important Selection of Imperial Chinese Porcelains, Hong Kong, 07 Apr 2011 


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