Lot 3607. A rare finely painted Ming-style blue and white moonflask, Qing dynasty, Yongzheng period (1723-1735); 27.8 cm, 10 7/8 in. Estimate 1,200,000 — 1,500,000 HKD (152,868 - 191,085 USD). Photo: Sotheby's.
the flattened circular body rising from a slightly concave base to a cylindrical neck gradually flaring towards the rim, set with a pair of ruyi scrolled handles, the body deftly painted in rich cobalt-blue tones with simulated 'heaped and piled' effect, depicting on one side a magpie perched on a bough of flowering prunus beside leafy bamboo, the reverse similarly decorated with the perching bird rendered leaning forward on a flowering and budding branch of prunus beside bamboo, all between stylised flame scrolls at the shoulder and foot, the neck painted with further leafy shoots of bamboo, the concave base unglazed revealing the buff-coloured body.
Note: This elegant moonflask assumes an immediate sense of familiarity through the meticulously rendered design and form, both of which are made to replicate historical masterpieces of the early Ming dynasty. Created during the reign of the Yongzheng Emperor (r. 1723-1735), it reflects the Emperor’s utmost respect for the nation’s glorious past and the remarkable technical development achieved at the imperial kiln at Jingdezhen during his reign. Under the guidance of the great Superintendent Tang Ying (1682-1756), the potters were able to absorb and emulate the distinctive qualities of early Ming prototype as evident on the use of cobalt on the present piece, which has been carefully applied in imitation of the characteristic ‘heaping and piling’ effect of the originals.
Compare a Yongzheng moonflask of this type in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, included in the Museum’s exhibition Pleasingly Pure and Lustrous: Porcelains from the Yongle Reign (1403-1424) of the Ming Dynasty, Taipei, 2017, pl. 158; one from the Richard de la Mare, Su Lin An and Meiyintang collections, sold in our London rooms, 2nd April 1974, lot 369, and twice in these rooms, 31st October 1995, lot 325, and 7th April 2011, lot 76; another sold in our London rooms, 21st June 1983, lot 313; and a fourth example sold in our New York rooms, 1st December 1992, lot 339. Smaller examples include one sold in these rooms, 28th April 1992, lot 115; another, attributed to the 18th century, from the A.C.J. Wall collection, sold at Christie’s New York, 19th September 2006, lot 305; and a third sold in these rooms, 5th November 1997, lot 1371, and again at Christie’s Hong Kong, 3rd June 2015, lot 3126, from the Leshantang collection, illustrated in The Leshantang Collection of Chinese Porcelain, Taipei, 2005, pl. 29.
Formely Collection of Richard de la Mare (1940s to 1974), Su Lin An collection & Meiyintang Collection. Lot 76. Another view of the magnificent blue and white moon flask with birds on flowering branches. Qing dynasty, Yongzheng period (1723-1735); 30.5 cm., 12 in. Sold for 20,260,000 HKD (2,606,246 USD) at Sotheby's London, 2nd April 1974, lot 369. Photo: Sotheby's.
In form and decoration, the present piece closely copies a Yongle prototype of which only one example appears to be extant, from the Sir Percival David Collection and now in the British Museum, London, illustrated in Regina Krahl and Jessica Harrison-Hall, Chinese Ceramics. Highlights of the Sir Percival David Collection, London, 2009, no. 28, p. 61.
Blue-and-white moon flask with birds on flowering branches, Ming dynasty, Yongle period, AD 1403–24, Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province. Porcelain with underglaze cobalt-blue decoration, 30,8 x 25,4 x 15 cm. . Sir Percival David Collection, PDF A612, British Museum, London © The Trustees of the British Museum.