03 avril 2018

A rare reverse-decorated powder-blue 'Gardenia' dish, Mark and period of Yongzheng (1723-1735)

A rare reverse-decorated powder-blue 'Gardenia' dish, Mark and period of Yongzheng (1723-1735)

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Lot 3617. A rare reverse-decorated powder-blue 'Gardenia' dish, Mark and period of Yongzheng (1723-1735); 33.3 cm, 13 1/8  in. Estimate 3,500,000 — 5,000,000 HKD. Lot sold 4,320,000 HKD (447,009 EUR) (550,411 USD) ©  Sotheby's 2018

with shallow rounded sides resting on a short foot, the interior centred with a medallion enclosing a gardenia spray, surrounded by four similar sprays around the cavetto and a matching continuous scroll on the exterior, all reserved against a finely speckled cobalt-blue ground, the floral and foliate details of the design rendered in white slip, the base inscribed with a six-character reign mark within a double circle.

Provenance: Collection of Alexander Robertson (1861-1922), Thornhill, Scotland, and thence by descent.

Noteith 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, Taipei, 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 dish, together with a bowl, decorated in the same technique, and a similar dish with the design coloured in yellow, see Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, London, 1994-2010, vol. 2, nos 843, 842 and 844; the Meiyintang dish, formerly in the collections of Edward G. Kennedy and Edward Kennedy Torrington, was acquired at Christie's New York, 2nd December 1989, lot 370, and sold in these rooms, 7th April 2011, lot 75.

Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art, Hong Kong, 03 Apr 2018.


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