Lot 114. A fine Blue and White 'Lianzi' Bowl, Xuande Mark and Period (1426–1435); diameter 8 in., 20.3 cm; height 4 in., 10.2 cm. Estimate USD 120,000 - USD 150,000. Lot sold USD 265,000. © Sotheby's
the circular bowl with deep curving sides, all on a low, straight foot, the exterior of the body decorated with a wide band of deep-blue narrow petals above a double-line border on the foot, a leiwen band between two double-line borders at the rim, the interior decoration in paler blue, centered by a fruiting spray of loquat within a double circle, surrounded by a wide band of six alternating chrysanthemum and camellia blossoms on scrolling foliage with associated flower buds, a wave band between double-line borders at the interior of the rim.
Provenance: Acquired by the parents of the present owner in Beijing during the 1920's.
Thence by descent.
The parents of the present owner lived in Beijing during the 1920's while the present owner's father taught medicine at the former Beijing University Medical School through a program sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation.
Note: Lianzi or lotus bowls of the Xuande period are among the finest early Ming porcelain pieces manufactured at the Imperial kilns at Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province. The present bowl is an especially beautiful example of its kind. The decoration is masterfully painted and placed, highlighting the flawless white body. It is comparable with a bowl in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, included in the exhibition Selected Hsuan-te Imperial Porcelains of the Ming Dynasty, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1998, cat.no. 155; as well as one in the Kimbell Art Museum, illustrated in Timothy Potts (ed.), Kimbell Art Museum. Handbook of the Collection, Fort Worth, Texas, 2003, p. 207.
See also a bowl from the collection of Mrs. Alfred Clark sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 30th April 1991, lot 16; and a bowl from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Cole, New York, illustrated in Adrian Joseph, Ming Porcelains. Their Origins and Development, London, 1971, pl. 30, and included in the Exhibition of Chinese Blue and White Porcelain and Related Underglaze Red, Oriental Ceramic Society, Hong Kong, 1975, cat.no. 10, sold at Christie's London, 8th July 1974, lot 191, and twice in our Hong Kong rooms, 8th November 1982, lot 101, and 31st October 2004, lot 157.
Xuande lianzi bowls are also known in a slightly different version with two pomegranates painted in the central medallion instead of a spray of loquat; for example see a bowl recovered from the waste heaps of the Ming Imperial kilns included in the exhibition Xuande Imperial Porcelain Excavated at Jingdezhen, Chang Foundation, Taipei, 1998, cat.no. 107; and another in the Idemitsu Museum of Art, Tokyo, published in Chinese Ceramics in the Idemitsu Collection, Tokyo, 1987, pl. 633. Compare also a related bowl, with a Xuande mark and of the period, but with two tiers of petals around the exterior and a lotus scroll on the interior with fruiting pomegranate in the centre, illustrated in Ming chu qinghua ci, vol. 2, Beijing, 2002, pl. 150.
Xuande bowls of this type closely follow earlier Yongle prototypes. For example see a Yongle bowl in the Shanghai Museum included in Lu Minghua, Ming dai guanyao ciqi, Shanghai, 2007, p.11, fig. 1-8; and another slightly larger Yongle bowl from the Morrill Collection sold at Doyle's New York, 16th September 2005, lot 85.
Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics And Works Of Art, New York, 18 March 2008