A large blue and white 'Dragon and Phoenix' bowl, Wanli period (1573-1619)


A large blue and white 'Dragon and Phoenix' bowl, Wanli period (1573-1619)

Lot 1637. A large blue and white 'Dragon and Phoenix' bowl, Wanli period (1573-1619); 14 7/8 in. (37.7 cm.) diam. Estimate USD 15,000 - USD 18,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2019 

The exterior is decorated on one side with a striding four-clawed dragon reaching towards a flaming pearl surrounded by flames, and on the other with a phoenix standing amidst leafy branches bearing six-petaled blossoms. The interior is decorated in the medallion with a bird perched on a rock next to a peony branch, and in the well with branches of peony and other blossoms, separated by clumps of aster.

Provenance: Private collection, France.

Note: Whilst the combination of a dragon and a phoenix, representing the Emperor and Empress, is a popular theme in Chinese art, the rendering of each creature in such differing painting styles, with the energetic dragon surrounded by loose fire scrolls, and the phoenix more static and hemmed in by dense flowers and foliage, is very unusual. 

The present bowl is also exceptional for its large size. A related bowl with dragon and phoenix decoration, dated to the early to mid-seventeenth century, but with an apocryphal Chenghua mark on the base, is illustrated by R. Krahl and J. Ayers, Chinese Porcelains in the Topkapi Saray Museum, Istanbul, London, 1986, vol. II, pp. 786-87, no. 1521.

Christie's. Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art, New York, 22 March 2019