Lot 3610. A rare wucai 'Fish' cup, Mark and period of Wanli (1573-1620); 10.5 cm, 4 1/8 in. Estimate 600,000 — 800,000 HKD. Lot Sold 937,500 HKD (120,759 USD). Courtesy Sotheby's.
the low rounded sides rising from a short tapering foot to a gently flaring rim, decorated to the exterior with blue fish swimming amidst waterweeds and aquatic plants rendered in red, yellow and green enamels, the interior painted in cobalt blue with a central dragon medallion encircled by five stylised cloud scrolls, inscribed to the base with a six-character reign mark within a double circle.
Note: This cup is remarkable for its lively depiction of four fish rendered in a range of flowing brushstrokes and loose washes to evoke an aquatic scene. A sense of movement is captured through the different poses of the fish and the swaying of the aquatic plants that appear as if bending with the flow of the currents.
Cups painted with this design are unusual; compare a Wanli mark and period bowl with fish in waterweeds, but the fish painted in iron red, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Porcelains in Polychrome and Contrasting Colours, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 54. Compare also a similar cup sold at Osaka Bijutsu Club, Osaka, 3rd/4th June 1931, lot 293, from the Toseikan collection.