Lot 3305. A rare incised and anhua-decorated 'sweet-white' glazed lianzi bowl, Ming dynasty, Yongle period (1403-1425); 16.2 cm, 6 3/8 in. Estimate 800,000 — 1,200,000. Lot Sold 1,062,500 HKD (136,861 USD). Courtesy Sotheby's.
thinly and superbly potted with deep rounded sides converging to a pointed base, supported on a narrow, gently tapering foot, the central interior incised with a stylised flower, encircled by a floral band and interlocking strapwork motifs rendered in the anhua technique, all below a cash coin diaper band around the rim, the exterior incised with long lappets below a keyfret border, above an undulating chevron band encircling the foot, covered overall in an opaque white glaze.
Provenance: Collection of Henry Charles Lea (1825-1909), possibly acquired in Ningbo, China, circa 1900, thence by descent to Charles Matthew Lea (1853-1927) and later by descent to the Estate of Mary Mason Hudson, Philadelphia.
Sotheby's New York, 20th March 2002, lot 181.
Anhua, ‘hidden decoration’, was practised almost exclusively at the beginning of the Ming dynasty, from the Hongwu to the Xuande period, and only at Jingdezhen.
Although blue and white bowls of this form and decoration were also produced, including one in the British Museum, London, illustrated in Soame Jenyns, Ming Pottery and Porcelain, London, 1988, pl. 28B, the Yongle Emperor is believed to have preferred monochrome white wares, and blue and white counterparts of such bowls only became popular later during the Xuande period.
Closely related white-glazed bowls rendered in this decoration include one from the Frederick M. Mayer collection, also formerly in the A.D. Brankston and Eumorfopoulos collections, sold at Christie’s London, 24th June 1974, lot 81; and another sold in our New York rooms, 20th March 2002, lot 181. Compare also a white-glazed bowl decorated in the same techniques, but with the interior and exterior designs reversed, from the Qing court collection and now preserved in the Palace Museum, Beijing, included in the Museum’s exhibition, Imperial Porcelains from the Reigns of Hongwu and Yongle in the Ming Dynasty, Beijing, 2015, pl. 117.