Lot 739. A blue and white Ming-style 'Dragon' meiping, Qing dynasty, Yongzheng period (1723-1735). Height 10 3/4 in., 27.3 cm. Estimate 60,000 — 80,000 USD. Lot sold 75,000 USD. Courtesy Sotheby's.
sturdily potted, the sides rising at an angle to a broad, generous shoulder rounding upward before converging at the short waisted neck, painted in rich cobalt hues with a pair of confronting five-clawed sinuous dragons vigorously writhing amid flaming clouds above a turbulent sea, the powerful bodies twisting and the muscular forelegs outstretched, the vibrant cobalt of deep violet-tinged tone and richly applied in areas imitating the 'heaping and piling' effect.
Note: Both in shape and design this vase appears to be closely modeled on an early 15th century prototype. Although no early Ming counterpart of identical design seems to be preserved, a vase with a very similar bold dragon painted has been recovered from the Yongle stratum of the waste heaps of the Ming Imperial kilns, published in the exhibition catalogue Imperial Hongwu and Yongle Porcelain Excavated at Jingdezhen, Chang Foundation, Taipei, 1996, cat. no. 67; and a meiping of similar form, painted with a blue dragon on a white ground, Xuande mark and period, was included in the exhibition Beauty and Tranquility: The Eli Lilly Collection of Chinese Art, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, 1983, cat. no. 95. A similar design of an incised white dragon on blue waves can be seen on the famous meiping from the Ardabil Shrine, illustrated, for example, in Takatoshi Misugi, Chinese Porcelain Collections in the Near East: Topkapi and Ardebil, vol. 3, Hong Kong, 1981, , pl. A 65, which also has a broken counterpart discovered at the Imperial kiln site at Jingdezhen, see the Taipei exhibition, op.cit., cat. no. 67.
Related examples with a Yongzheng reign mark include: one with an incised white dragon on a ground of blue waves illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Blue and White Porcelain with Underglazed Red (III), Hong Kong, 2000, pl. 76; a bottle vase with an underglaze-blue dragon striding amidst a foliate meander, ibid., pl. 81; and a baluster-form vase with a pair of dragons contesting a 'flaming pearl' over crashing waves, from the du Boulay Collection, sold at Bonhams London, 10th November 2003, lot 32. See also an umarked meiping attributed to the Yongzheng/Qianlong periods, with underglaze-blue and copper-red decoration depicting dragons amid rolling waves, from the Walter C. Koerner Collection sold at Christie’s London, 4th June 1973, lot 107.