Lot 362. A fine blue white 'Story of the White Hare' bowl and cover, Qing Dynasty, Kangxi Period (1662-1722). Height 7 1/2 in., 19.1 cm. Estimate 20,000 — 30,000 USD. Lot sold 52,500 USD. Courtesy Sotheby's.
the steep rounded sides rising to a short upright rim and supported on a slightly tapered foot, the exterior vibrantly painted in rich and varied tones of underglaze blue with a lively, continuous narrative scene depicting the moment the young soldier, Yaoqi Lang, galloping on horseback, accompanied by fellow warriors, hunting a white rabbit and fatefully encountering a demurely posed Li Sanniang fetching water from a well, all amid a rustic setting, the slightly domed cover with four scenes illustrating a young scholar attending to the teachings of masters engaged in conversation, painting, calligraphy and playing the qin, all surmounted by a stepped spherical knop (2), coll. no. 105.
Provenance: Collection of Eileen Lesoeuf.
Ben Janssens Oriental Art, London, 1999.
Exhibited: Seventeenth Century Chinese Blue and White Porcelain from the Private Collection of Eileen Lesouef, Ben Janssens Oriental Art, London, 1999, cat. no. 54.
Literature: Jeffrey P. Stamen, Cynthia Volk with Yibin Ni, A Culture Revealed, Kangxi-Era Chinese Porcelain from the Jie Rui Tang Collection, Bruges, 2017, cat. no. 9.
Note: The story depicted on the present bowl is based on a play written in the fourteenth century, The Story of the White Rabbit which recounts the trials of Li Sanniang, a virtuous wife, and her eventual reunion with her husband and son. Shortly after their marriage, Liu Zhiyuan a man of poor reputation, Sanniang’s husband, leaves her to seek success and fortune. Sanniang is put to task by her brothers because she defied their wishes that she remarry. Sanniang bears a son all alone and eventually sends him away to reunite with his father. Sixteen years later, the son, now a young man encounters Sanniang by chance during a hunting trip. Upon hearing of her misfortunes, he recognizes that she may be his mother. Li Sanniang's loyalty is rewarded with the happy reconciliation of her family.