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Lot 506. A rare pair of yellow-ground blue and white 'dragon' bowl, Kangxi marks and period (1662-1722). Diameter 7 1/4 in., 18.4 cm. Estimate US$5,000 - US$7,000. Lot sold 22,500 USD. Courtesy Sotheby's.

each with deep rounded sides set over a slightly tapering foot and rising to an everted rim, the exterior painted in inky cobalt with two sinuous five-clawed dragons each in pursuit of a 'flaming pearl' amidst flame scrolls and waves crashing into rocks below, the flame scrolls and some areas of the dragons raised in low relief, each dragon's tongue and 'flaming pearl' picked out in over-glaze iron red, all against a yellow-glazed biscuit ground, the interior with an underglaze-blue 'flaming pearl' with some of the flames picked out in iron red all within a double circle, the base with a six-character mark in underglaze blue within a double circle; together with the original Parke-Bernet catalogue.

Provenance: Parke-Bernet New York, 3rd October 1963, lot 167.
Collection of Dr. Lester D. Shultis (1925-1997), and thence by descent. 

Note: This pair of bowls utilizes a rare and distinctive technique to portray the dragons in underglaze-blue low relief against a yellow-glazed biscuit ground. The bowls were likely produced in the early years of the Kangxi Emperor's reign when the craftsmen at the Imperial kilns were highly experimental and developed novel ways of rendering traditional subjects. The early Kangxi period dating is further supported by the style of the reign marks. Other early Kangxi period wares executed in this technique include a yellow-ground 'dragon' dish sold in our London rooms, 17th December 1980, lot 669; and a similar dish, but with a café-au-lait-glazed ground in the collection of the British Museum (coll. no. 1924,1019.1).

Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art, New York, 20 march 2019