26 mai 2019

A rare blue and white and yellow and green-enamelled 'floral' bowl, Yongzheng six-character mark and of the period

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Lot 104. A rare blue and white and yellow and green-enamelled 'floral' bowl, Yongzheng six-character mark and of the period(1723-1735); 23.5cm (9 1/4 in) diam. Estimate £ 8,000 - 10,000. Sold for £ 18,812 (€ 21,300). © Bonhams 2001-2019.

The deep rounded sides rising from a short spreading foot to a lipped rim, painted in vibrant tones of blue on a bright yellow enamelled ground, the interior with a medallion of peony, all below a green enamelled classic-scroll border at the rim, the exterior decorated with a composite floral scroll of rose, lotus, camellias and other blossoms, between a green enamelled classic scroll around the foot and a band of keyfret at the rim.

Provenance: Thomas Torrance (1871–1959), and thence by descent.

NoteThomas Torrance, born in Shotts, Scotland, was a Protestant missionary who went to China in 1895. He was first sent to Chengdu by the China Inland Mission (CIM) and stayed in Western Sichuan from 1896 to 1910. He left for Scotland in 1910 but returned to Sichuan with the American Bible Society shortly after. He married Annie Elizabeth Sharp (1883–1980) of the CIM in 1911. Whilst travelling deep into Sichuan and the foothills of the Himalayas, he came across the Qiang people, about whom he wrote extensively and whom he believed to belong to the Lost Tribes of Israel; see the Selected Works of Thomas Torrance, Chengdu, 2016, p.234. He was also instrumental in establishing the West China Union University Archaeological Museum. He finally left China in 1934 to return to Scotland.

The present lot is extremely rare, encapsulating the high level of artistry and innovation achieved during the Yongzheng period, reflected in the pale green bands bordering the inner and outer rims. The cobalt-blue decoration and the application of the yellow enamel required meticulous precision. In his Taocheng jishi, 'Account of Porcelain Achievement', compiled in 1735, Tang Ying includes a list of fifty-seven types of wares supplied to the court, one of which was described as 'Xuande-style design on yellow ground', and noted to be a newly developed category of the period. 

A very similar underglaze-blue and yellow-enamelled bowl with composite floral scroll, Yongzheng six-character mark and of the period, is illustrated by J.Ayers, Chinese Ceramics in the Baur Collection, vol.2, Geneva, 1999, p.91, no.210

 Bonhams. Fine Chinese Art, London, 16 May 2019


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