Lot 1632. A very rare and unusual blue and white wine pot and cover, Wanli period (1573-1619); 8 3/8 in. (21.2 cm.) wide including the spout. Estimate USD 40,000 - USD 60,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2019
The wine pot is decorated on the sides with four cartouches, each depicting a gentleman accompanied by an attendant in various settings, separated by panels covered with a white glaze which is carved through with a key fret pattern to reveal the biscuit below. The shoulder and foot are decorated with bands of lotus petal panels enclosing various diaper patterns. Two U-shaped metal handles are affixed at the shoulder, and the curved spout issues from one decorative panel. The cover is decorated with four separate diaper grounds, surmounted by an unglazed finial pierced with a cash motif, Japanese wood box.
Provenance: Private collection, Japan, acquired before 1940.
Christie's Hong Kong, 27 November 2013, lot 3517.
Note: Wine pots of this large size and design appear to be extremely rare. The design is a very painstaking but effective pattern created by carving through the white-glazed layer to reveal the biscuit body which serves as an additional, contrasting color for the overall blue and white palette. Although diaper-ground panels carved in openwork are well-documented in smaller bowls from the late Ming, the use of carving to reveal the biscuit appears to be very unusual, and no similar wine pots with this technique appear to have been published. There is, however, a large blue and white bowl which exhibits the same fretwork ground carved through to the biscuit, illustrated by J. Harrison-Hall, Ming Ceramics in the British Museum, London, 2001, pp. 368-69, no. 12:40; another similar bowl is illustrated by C. J. A. Jörg, Chinese Ceramics in the Collection of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. The Ming and Qing Dynasties, Amsterdam, 1997, p. 64, no. 48, where the author notes that such decoration on large bowls is rare. The additional complexity of rendering such a design on a wine pot adds to its rarity and allure.
Christie's. Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art, New York, 22 March 2019