A highly unusual and exquisite pair of white and famille-rose lotus-leaf ink palettes, Qing dynasty, Yongzheng period (1723-1735)

Lot 11. A highly unusual and exquisite pair of white and famille-rose lotus-leaf ink palettes, Qing dynasty, Yongzheng period (1723-1735). White palette 9.4 cm., 3 3/4 in. Enamelled palette 10.3 cm., 4 in. Estimate 800,000 — 1,200,000 HKD. Lot Sold 4,820,000 HKD. Photo Sotheby's 2011

each delicately hand-modelled out of thin translucent porcelain in the shape of a curled lotus leaf with a short attached stalk, pierced with worm-eaten holes and with veins finely incised on the inside and raised in relief on the outside, one piece plain white, the other elegantly enamelled in famille rose with an insect on the inner rim, two tiny pink buds on top and a small green lotus leaf and further yellow buds twined round the stalk, the bases accented with minute spur marks.

ProvenanceCollection of Rose Loo.
Sotheby's Hong Kong, 16th November 1988, lot 367

ExhibitedChinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, 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. nos 187 and 188.

LiteratureRegina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, London, 1994-2010, vol. 2, nos 965-6

Note: This pair of naturalistically modelled lotus leaves is unique and remarkable in its refinement, and must have been created under the tenure of Tang Ying (1682-1756), who served the Yongzheng and Qianlong Emperors as supervisor of the Qing imperial kilns at Jingdezhen from 1726 until his death, with only one brief interval. One other piece made in the same fashion, probably at the same time, is a palette in form of a wide-open lotus leaf, painted in a similar delicate manner with two small crabs and a stalk of reed; see Terese Tse Bartholomew, 'Botanical Puns in Chinese Art from the Collection of the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, Orientations, September 1985, p. 26, fig. 15; with a detail again in Terese Tse Bartholomew, Hidden Meanings in Chinese Art, Hong Kong, 2006, no. 4.7.2.

Sotheby's. The Meiyintang Collection - An Important Selection of Imperial Chinese Porcelains, 07 Apr 11, Hong Kong