A fine and extremely rare Ming blue and white 'Three friends' dish, Jiajing six-character mark within double-circles and of the period (1522-1566)

Lot 1990. A fine and extremely rare Ming blue and white 'Three friends' dish, Jiajing six-character mark within double-circles and of the period (1522-1566); 9 7/8 in. (25 cm.) diam. Estimate HKD 600,000 - HKD 800,000Price realised HKD 1,820,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2010

Finely painted in soft purplish-blue tones of cobalt with a central roundel depicting curved branches of the 'Three Friends of Winter', pine, bamboo and prunus, all within an elaborate lingzhi scroll around the s-shaped cavetto, the exterior with further branches of pine, prunus and bamboo branches issuing from rockwork, box.

Note: No other Jiajing dish of this rare pattern appears to have been published. The prototype for this design can be seen on a Chenghua dish in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Blue and White Porcelain with Underglazed Red, The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, vol. II, Shanghai, 2000, p. 17, pl. 15. The lingzhi scroll surrounding the central roundel on the present dish follows the original Chenghua design very closely.

Compare with a similarly sized Jiajing-marked dish in The Palace Museum collection, Beijing, painted with the 'Three Friends of Winter' rendered in a slightly different style and lacking the ruyi scroll around the cavettoillustrated ibid, 2000, p. 140, pl. 129. Another smaller Jiajing-marked 'Three Friends of Winter' dish in the National Palace Museum collection, Taipei, again with differences in the composition but including a ruyi band around the rim was included in the exhibition Good Fortune, Long Life, Health, and Peace: A Special Exhibition of Porcelains with Auspicious Designs, National Palace Meseum, Taipei, 1995 and illustrated in the Catalogue, p. 158, pl. 80

Christie's. The Imperial Sale Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, Hong Kong, 31 May 2010 - Sale 2811