A rare and large sancai-glazed bowl, Kangxi mark and period (1662-1722)

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Lot 356. A rare and large sancai-glazed bowl, Kangxi mark and period (1662-1722). Diameter 12 3/8  in., 31.4 cm. Estimate 80,000 — 120,000 USD. © Sotheby's

finely potted, the deep rounded sides rising from a slightly tapered foot to an everted rim, freely splashed allover with emerald-green, marigold-yellow, and bright aubergine famille-verte enamels, the exterior of the foot enameled vibrant green, the base with a six-character mark in underglaze blue within a double circle, coll. no. 1560. 

The Jie Rui Tang Collection.

ProvenanceA. & J. Speelman, London, 2002.

LiteratureJeffrey P. Stamen and Cynthia Volk with Yibin Ni, A Culture Revealed: Kangxi-era Chinese Porcelain from the Jie Rui Tang Collection, Bruges, 2017, pl. 21.

NoteThe lively abstracted splashes that decorate the present bowl are inspired by earlier lead glazes first created by northern potters in the 6th century. Sancai, or three-color glaze, reached a zenith in the Tang dynasty. Creative solutions emerged to control the runny nature of the glaze and allow the bright colors to be applied in patterns often inspired by exotic batik and other resist-pattern textiles. The archaistic stippling and dripping that enlivens the bold decoration of the present bowl was a means to pay tribute and establish continuity with one of the most illustrious dynasties of Chinese history. The dense, overlapping spots are also known as 'tiger-skin pattern' (hu pi ban).

The present bowl is exceptionally rare for its large size. There appears to be only one other known example of this scale which is from the Qing Court Collection and illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Miscellaneous Enamelled Porcelains Plain Tricoloured Porcelains, Hong Kong, 2009, pl. 226 (fig. 1). Similarly decorated forms of this period frequently bear the Kangxi reign mark as an indication of their status (ibid., pl. 225). The pattern was very popular and numerous lesser quality examples bearing different marks or unmarked were produced, many of which found their way West where the glaze is referred to as 'egg and spinach'. Examples of this type are also included in the Palace Museum, Beijing (ibid., pls 223 and 224).

A large sancai bowl, Kangxi mark and period, Palace Museum, Beijing © The Palace Museum, Beijing

A large sancai bowl, Kangxi mark and period, Palace Museum, Beijing © The Palace Museum, Beijing

 Sotheby's. KANGXI: The Jie Rui Tang Collection, New York, 20 March 2018, 11:00 AM