Lot 1944. A rare blue and white octagonal 'boys' jar and cover, Mark and period of Wanli (1573-1619); 13.5 cm., 5 3/8 in. Estimate 1,000,000 — 1,500,000 HKD (96,406 — 144,609 EUR). Lot sold 3,620,000 HKD (348,989 EUR). Photo Sotheby's
of octagonal section, the straight walls rising from a short foot, the exterior painted in vivid shades of cobalt-blue with eight panels, each detailed with boys at play in a balustraded garden scene, the underside inscribed with a six-character reign mark within double circles, the fitted cover of conforming shape similarly adorned with three boys at play in a craggy landscape below a pine tree, all encircled by a lingzhi border, surmounted by a squirrel knop.
An Asian Family Collection.
Christie's Hong Kong, 29th April 2002, lot 611.
Exhibited: Chuugoku touji meiho ten shiriizu, The Gotoh Museum, Tokyo, 1966.
Literature: Mayuyama, Seventy Years, Tokyo, 1976, vol. 1, pl. 958.
Note: The present finely painted blue-and-white box is unusual for the decoration of 'boys at play' with no other box and cover of this form and design combination recorded. The theme of 'boys at play' was popular not only from earlier, Song dynasty, paintings, but it also came to represent an auspicious imagery expressing the wish for male heirs.
Lobed Wanli mark and period boxes painted with figures in landscape in polychrome enamels are more readily found, for example see one illustrated in Sekai toji zenshu, vol. 14, Tokyo, 1976, pl. 263; and another sold in these rooms, 28thNovember 1979, lot 81. See also a blue-and-white lobed box decorated with scholars pursuing leisurely activities sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 28th November 2005, lot 1422.
An octagonal form Wanli box of similar dimensions as the present piece, but decorated with flowers, butterflies and insects in wucai enamels was sold in our London rooms, 13th December 1988, lot 191; another octagonal box in the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, bearing dragons above waves, was included in the exhibition The Arts of the Ming Dynasty, Detroit Art Museum, Detroit, 1952, cat. no. 175; and a hexagonal box version of the dragon design, in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, is published in Enamelled Ware of the Ming Dynasty, Book III, Hong Kong, 1966, pl. 6.
Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art. Hong Kong. 05 Oct 2011