A pierced blue and white 'dragon' sweetmeat box and cover, Wanli mark and period (1573-1619)


Lot 611. A pierced blue and white 'dragon' sweetmeat box and cover, Wanli mark and period (1573-1619). Diameter 8 5/8  in., 21.6 cmEstimate 20,000 — 30,000 USDLot Sold 25,000 USD. Courtesy Sotheby's.

of compressed globular form, resting on a straight foot surmounted by a domed cover, the sides of the box and cover each painted with leaping dragons in profile amidst flowerheads on leafy scrolls, the cover centered with a pierced 'coin' painted with flowers and conch shells, encircled by a 'wave' band, the interior of the box divided into a central floriform walled compartment radiating six segments, the footring with bands of scrolls, the recessed base glazed white and with a six-character mark in underglaze blue (2).

Provenance: Sotheby's London, 9th December 1986, lot 190.
C. C. Lai Antiques, Toronto, 1960s-1980s, and thence by descent.

Note: Blue and white sweetmeat boxes of this design include one sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 7th July 2003, lot 652; another with a cover of this type from the Toguri Museum of Art sold in our London rooms, 9th June 2004, lot 39. A wucai enameled box with the same decoration was included in the exhibition Treasures from the Shanghai Museum: 6000 years of Chinese Art, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1983, pl. XXXVII. 

Compare also Wanli mark and period sweetmeat boxes with dragons enclosed in lobed medallions reserved on a pierced diaper ground; one was included in the exhibition Ming and Ch'ing Porcelain from the Collection of the T. Y. Chao Family Foundation, Hong Kong Museum of Art, 1978, cat. no. 25. Another example sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 21st May 1979, lot 46, and a further box and cover sold in our London rooms, 10th July 1979, lot 147.

Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art, New York, 11 September 2019