A reverse-decorated powder-blue dish, mark and period of Yongzheng (1723-1735)



Lot 75. A reverse-decorated powder-blue dish, mark and period of Yongzheng (1723-1735); 33.5 cm., 13 1/4 in. Estimate 3,500,000 — 700,000 HKD. Lot sold 3,380,000 HKD. Photo: Sotheby's 2011.

with rounded sides, decorated with a central gardenia spray, four similar sprays around the inner sides and a matching continuous scroll around the outside, all reserved on an overall finely speckled cobalt-blue ground, the flowers with veins and other details painted in white slip, the base inscribed with the six-character reign mark.

ProvenanceCollection of Edward G. Kennedy.
Collection of Edward Kennedy Torrington.
Christie's New York, 2nd December 1989, lot 370.

ExhibitedEvolution 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. 141.

LiteratureRegina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, London, 1994-2010, vol. 2, no. 843.

NoteWith its white reserve decoration on a cobalt-blue ground this pattern would seem to be ultimately based on prototypes of the Xuande period with a single flower spray in the centre, such as a dish in the National Palace Museum, Taiwan, included in the Museum's exhibition Mingdai Xuande guanyao jinghua tezhan tulu/Catalogue of the Special Exhibition of Selected Hsüan-te Imperial Porcelains of the Ming Dynasty, Taipei, 1998, pl. 193. A somewhat closer design was developed in the Wanli reign, with four flowers in the centre, for example, on a dish in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Blue and White Porcelain with Underglazed Red, Shanghai, 2000, vol. 2, pl. 195.

The early Ming design was also copied more closely in the Yongzheng period, as can be seen on a dish in the Shanghai Museum illustrated in Lu Minghua, Mingdai guanyao ciqi [Ming imperial porcelain], Shanghai, 2007, pl. 5-33. Whereas both the Xuande prototype and the Shanghai Museum Yongzheng version are covered with an even, dark cobalt-blue coloured glaze, the Wanli example has the ground painted in underglaze cobalt-blue, and on the present dish the pigment was blown onto the vessel through a tube covered with gauze, which produced this finely speckled powder-blue effect.

A similar dish in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, is illustrated in Suzanne G. Valenstein, A Handbook of Chinese Ceramics, New York, 1989, pl. 248. The Meiyintang collection contains also a blue and white bowl decorated in the same technique, and a similar dish with the design coloured in yellow, see Krahl, op.cit., vol. 2, nos 842 and 844.


Dish, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), Yongzheng mark and period (1723–35). Porcelain with reserve decoration and slight relief on "powder blue" ground. Diam. 13 in. (33 cm). Purchase by subscription, 1879; 79.2.129 © 2000–2018 The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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