Lot 55. A blue and white saucer-dish, Yongle period (1403-1425); 13 in. (35 cm.) diam. Estimate GBP 10,000 - GBP 15,000. Price realised GBP 20,700. © Christie’s Images Limited 1998
Painted in a rich cobalt blue with characteristic 'heaping and piling' visible in areas, to the centre with a ribboned lotus bouquet, within three concentric bands, the well with leafy scrolling tendrils issuing peony, lotus and chrysanthemum blooms, below a classic-scroll border, the exterior with a similar band between a key-fret around the foot and classic scroll below the rim, the unglazed base fired pale orange-brown, two rim cracks.
Note: This dish is often referred to as a 'bouquet' dish and belongs to an important group of early Ming blue and white wares together with 'grape' dishes, 'melon' dishes and 'dragon' dishes. See J. A. Pope, Chinese Porcelains from the Ardebil Shrine, 1981, p.92, where he discusses the thirty-four 'bouquet' dishes of varying sizes and with varying borders in the Ardebil Collection, showing the wide range of intensity of the cobalt within the dishes and the diversity of decoration, albeit based on a master pattern. The classic-scroll band at the rim of the present dish appears to be more unusual than the more commonly found wave-pattern rim.
A smaller dish of the same design from the Shanghai Museum is illustrated, Underglaze Blue and Red, 1987, no.135; another from the National Palace Museum, Taibei, illustrated in Blue and White Ware of the Ming Dynasty, Book II, part 2, colour pl.38, included in the Special Exhibition of Early Ming Period Porcelain, Catalogue nos. 39 and 41; a third is illustrated in Chinese Ceramics in the Topkapi Saray Museum Istanbul, vol.II, no.10; another in the Ardebil Shrine is illustrated by Pope, ibid., pl.31, fig.29.21; yet another from the T.Y. Chao Collection was included in the Hong Kong Oriental Ceramic Society Exhibition, 1975, Chinese Blue and White Porcelain, Catalogue no.8; and a further example from the S.C. Ko Tianminlou Collection is illustrated in the Catalogue, pt.I, colour pl.10. Compare also the dish sold in our Hong Kong Rooms, 26 September 1989, lot 565, and another sold in these Rooms, 6 June 1994, lot 112.
Lot 56. A fine blue and white ewer, zhihu, Yongle period (1403-1425); 11 in. (28.5 cm.) high. Estimate GBP 30,000 - GBP 50,000. Price realised GBP 73,000. © Christie’s Images Limited 1998
The pear-shaped yuhuchun body with a curved spout, joined to the neck with a cloud-shaped strut, opposite an arched loop handle terminating in three moulded bosses simulating pegs holding the handle in place, finely painted in a strong blue to each side of the body with a cinquefoil medallion enclosing flowering and fruiting branches of pomegranates and peaches framed by floral sprays at the four corners, further decorated with lotus scrolls on the spout, a similar band on the handle, lotus-scroll below overlapping upright plantain leaves on the flaring neck, and a key-fret band at the foot, spout tip and handle cracks restored.
Note: Yongle period ewers of this form may be found with a great variety of designs; of these, there is one group where fruit is depicted within shaped panels on the sides, in which the present lot is included. Various combinations of fruit within either quatrefoil or cinquefoil panels may be found. One of the less common combinations is the peach and pomegranate, as on the present ewer. It would appear that ewers with these fruit are displayed within cinquefoil panels, and the spouts are decorated with scrolling lotus. This is in contrast to the more frequently found combination of peach and berries, or loquats, which are contained within quatrefoil panels, the spouts bearing classic or tightly scrolling foliage. Another variation to these ewers are the even rarer examples with grapevine panels and scrolling lingzhi on the spout.
Other ewers with a very similar design to the present lot are illustrated in Mayuyama, Seventy Years, Tokyo, 1976, vol.I, no.736 for the example now in the Niigata Hoso Museum, Japan; in The Min Chiu Society, Thirtieth Anniversary Exhibition, 1990, Catalogue no.131, p.292; in Zhongguo Meishu Quanjii, Arts and Crafts, vol.III, pl.69; while another in the Liaoning Provincial Museum is illustrated in Liaoning Sheng Bowuguan, pl.180. Two ewers of this rare design have been sold at Christie's in our New York Rooms, 2 December 1985, lot 234, and in our Hong Kong Rooms, 18 and 19 March 1991, lot 520.
Two excavated ewers of the type with peach and loquat within quatrefoil panels are published. One was excavated at Dongmentou, Zhushan and exhibited at The Chang Foundation, Taibei, 1996, Imperial Hongwu and Yongle Porcelain Excavated at Jingdezhen, Catalogue no.59, p.180, where an early Yongle date is suggested in view of the shape of the mouth and the studs at the handle base; the second was unearthed in 1982 from the stratum of the Xuande period and was exhibited at the Urban Council, Hong Kong, 1989, Exhibition of Imperial Porcelain of the Yongle and Xuande Periods, Excavated from the Site of the Ming Imperial Factory at Jingdezhen, Catalogue no.80, p.243. Several examples of the peach and loquat design are in Museum collections: in the Ardebil Shrine, Tehran, illustrated by T. Misugi, Chinese Porcelain Collections in the Near East, vol.III, no.A.78, p.156; in Tokyo, see Chinese Ceramics, The Idemitsu Collection, pl.629; and in the Shanghai Museum, illustrated in Underglaze Blue and Red, pl.42.
Lot 60. A fine and rare blue and white conical bowl, Encircled Xuande six-character mark and of the period (1426-1435); 8.1/8 in. (20.6 cm.) diam. Estimate GBP 90,000 - GBP 110,000. Price realised GBP 100,500. © Christie’s Images Limited 1998
Finely painted to the gently-rounded sides with a leafy scroll bearing six full peony blooms alternating with six smaller buds, between a single line below the rim and an overlapping-petal band above the short foot, the interior painted with a six-petalled flower-head within double lines at the well and rim, wood box.
Note: Similar marked bowls include the example illustrated in the T.Y. Chao Family Foundation, Hong Kong Museum of Art Exhibition, 1978, Catalogueno.9, formerly in the Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Clark Collection and exhibited at the Oriental Ceramic Society Exhibition, Chinese Blue and White Porcelain, London, 1953-54, Catalogue no.78. Compare also the similar bowl in the Shanghai Museum illustrated in Underglaze Blue and Red, Hong Kong, 1987, pl.55. Others are illustrated in Mingdai Taoci Daquan(Comprehensive List of Ming Dynasty Porcelain), pl.164; in Sekai Toji Zenshu, vol.14, pl.149, and also p.312, no.48 for a black-and-white detail; in Ming Dynasty Porcelain in the National Palace Museum, Catalogue, pl.66; in the Percival David Foundation, Catalogue, pl.XVII; by S. Jenyns, Ming Pottery and Porcelain, pl.29B for the example in the Brankston Collection, also illustrated by A. D. Brankston, Early Ming Wares from Chingtechen, pl.11; in Chinese Ceramics in the Toguri Collection, Catalogue, pl.89; and in Mayuyama, Seventy Years, Tokyo, 1976, vol.I, no.777.
A similar bowl was sold in our Hong Kong Rooms, 31 March 1992, lot 532.
Lot 61. A blue and white bowl, Xuande period (1426-1435); 7 in. (19.4 cm.) diam. Estimate GBP 10,000 - GBP 12,000. Price realised GBP 11,500. © Christie’s Images Limited 1998
With evenly rounded sides rising from the straight foot to a slightly everted rim, the exterior painted in a deep cobalt-blue with leafy flower scrolls between a small band of lappets and classic scroll at the foot and a key-pattern band at the rim, the interior with a lotus- scroll roundel at the centre below a band of leafy scroll and a blackberry-lily scroll, minor rim cracks.
Lot 62. A fine blue and white deep bowl, lianzi, Encircled Xuande six-character mark and of the period (1426-1435); 6 in. (16 cm.) diam. Estimate GBP 5,000 - GBP 7,000. Price realised GBP 5,175. © Christie’s Images Limited 1998
The deep bowl with gently rounded sides, the conical centre painted with a quatrefoilruyi composition, within double circle bands enclosing alternating floret and cross motifs, encircled by another ruyi and tendril arrangement below a key-fret band around the rim, the exterior with a petal band around the base, between key-fret bands below the rim and around the foot, restored, wood box.
Note: This rare type of lianzi bowl differs significantly in its design from the Yongle prototype. Others in this small group include the example in the Freer Gallery, Washington, illustrated in the Catalogue of Ming Porcelain, 1935, pl.15; the bowl illustrated by A.W. Brankston, Early Ming Wares of Chingtechen, pl.13D and C; by S. Jenyns, Ming Pottery and Porcelain, pl.28B; the National Palace Museum Collection, Taibei example included in the Special Exhibition of Selected Hsan-te Imperial Porcelains of the Ming Dynasty, Catalogue, Taipei, 1998, pp.368-369, no.157; and the Musée Guimet, Paris, example, illustrated by D. Lion-Goldschmidt, Ming Porcelain, New York, 1978, pls. 36 and 36a, p.77. An identical bowl from the Collection of the late Mr. and Mrs. R.H.R. Palmer was sold in our Hong Kong Rooms, 17 January 1989, lot 571.
Lot 63. A rare blue and white chrysanthemum dish, Xuande six-character mark below the rim exterior and of the period (1426-1435); 15 in . (38 cm.) diam. Estimate GBP 15,000 - GBP 18,000. Price realised GBP 21,850. © Christie’s Images Limited 1998
Painted to the centre with five large lotus blooms borne on leafy scrolling tendrils with large blooms, the well with a floral scroll with peony, chrysanthemum and lotus blossoms at the exterior and interior, below a key-fret band at the rim interior and a lingzhimeander at the rim exterior with the reign mark in a horizontal line, all below a thick milky glaze, the base unglazed and fired orange.
Note: Cf. a very similar example of smaller size bearing a Xuande reign mark, formerly from the J.M. Hu Family and the Jingguantang Collection, sold in our New York Rooms, 14 March 1997, lot 71; and another dish in the Victoria and Albert Museum, illustrated by Garner, Oriental Blue and White, London, 1954, pl.16.
It is rare to find marked dishes from this period of such substantial size. Additionally, it is unusual to find composite floral-scroll decorating both the well and the exterior, as in the case of the present dish, since published examples of this type and date are invariably designed with lotus blossom as the central flowerhead, and have lotus-scroll in the well and chrysanthemum on the exterior.
Unmarked dishes of this date decorated with lotus and chrysanthemum are also known to exist, and a smaller dish from the Meiyintang Collection is illustrated by R. Krahl, Catalogue, vol.II, pl.662, p.50, where the author notes that the use or lack of mark "may either signify different destinations, the court or export, or different dates - Xuande or Yongle - or both".
A particularly interesting motif found on this dish is the conjoined trefoil band at the base of the exterior well, which is also found on an unmarked dish illustrated by Pope, Chinese Porcelains from the Ardebil Shrine, 1956, pl.34 (29.98), where the design in using different paired flowers around the well is comparable to the present dish. The conjoined trefoil motif is a variation of the classical half-palmette pattern imported via Central Asia and examples have been found on Yungang cave wall mouldings dated to the late 5th century. Mutations of this design probably transferred to Chinese ceramics, and could be seen on exported blue and white wares of the 14th and early 15th centuries. For a detailed discussion, see J. Rawson, Chinese Ornament, The Lotus and the Dragon, British Museum, 1990, passim.
Lot 66. A blue and white 'Five dragon' bowl, Chenghua six-character mark and of the period (1465-1487); 7 in. (19 cm.) diam. Estimate GBP 2,000 - GBP 3,000. Price realised GBP 9,775. © Christie’s Images Limited 1998
Finely painted around the exterior with five sinuous scaly dragons among stylised wisps of clouds above a band of lotus lappets around the foot, the interior painted with a similar dragon within a roundel at the base and a narrow band of classic scroll at the slightly everted rim, restored.
Lot 67. A blue and white 'Phoenix' bowl, Chenghua six-character mark and of the period (1465-1487); 8 in. (21 cm.) diam. Estimate GBP 4,000 - GBP 6,000. Price realised GBP 9,775. © Christie’s Images Limited 1998
The flaring sides fluidly painted around the exterior with two phoenix in flight, the long fancy tail-feathers entwined with scrolling lotus tendrils, the interior painted with two confronted phoenix on a lotus-meander ground within a double band, the rim interior with a classic-scroll band, restored.
Lot 73. A rare blue and white double-gourd vase, Jiajing six-character mark within a double square and of the period (1522-1566); 12 in. (31 cm.) high. Estimate GBP 15,000 - GBP 25,000. Price realised GBP 18,400. © Christie’s Images Limited 1998
The square lower section painted on each side with a rectangular landscape panel within a double square depicting figures in various mountainous landscapes with pavilions and trees, the shoulder with a leafy peony scroll below the spherical upper section painted with a qilin and three other mythical beasts in a continuous landscape with bamboo and pine trees,small rim chip, fitted box.
Note: Although double-gourd vases are quite common in the Jiajing period, this particular form, with squared lower section and circular upper section occurs very rarely; it has been suggested that this form symbolizes the dual forces of heaven and earth. A vase of this form with very similar design from the Charles Russell collection was sold in London, 6 June 1935, lot 95, where there is a note mentioning that an identical vase is in the Tapestry Room at Penshurst Place, Kent; another, with its neck missing, is in the Manchester City Art Galleries, and is illustrated by C.M. Kauffmann, Chinese Pottery and Porcelain, Oriental Art, vol.V, no.3, Autumn 1959, p.121, fig.2. Other vases of this form, but with different scenes depicted on the lobes are illustrated in Mayuyama, op.cit., Tokyo, 1976, vol.1, no.860; in Sekai Toji Zenshu, Tokyo, 1976, vol.14, colour pl.190, and also in Toji Taikei, vol.42, colour pl.26; another from the Bloxham Collection is illustrated by Hobson, Rackham and King, Chinese Ceramics in Private Collections, 1931, p.131, fig.200; and a final example is illustrated in Ceramic Art of the World, 1976, vol.14, colour pl.190.
Lot 74. A fine blue and white double-gourd vase, Late Jiajing period (1522-1566); 26 in. (66 cm.) high. Estimate GBP 10,000 - GBP 15,000. Price realised GBP 11,500. © Christie’s Images Limited 1998
Painted overall with a dense trellis-pattern ground, reserved in the lower bulbous section with large quatrefoil panels enclosing figures in terraced gardens, below a cloud-head collar and cranes and phoenix in flight among clouds, the upper section reserved with double-gourd crane panels below the tapering mouth with cartouches enclosing archaistic censers.
Lot 77. A very rare and large blue and white lobed jar, Encircled Longqing six-character mark and of the period (1567-1572); 16 in. (42 cm.) high. Estimate GBP 45,000 - GBP 60,000. Price realised GBP 51,000. © Christie’s Images Limited 1998
Boldly painted in a strong inky-blue with six sinuous dragons alternately upright and upside-down, each on a rectangular panel faintly delineated with six vertical lines, between twelve stylised lappets at the base and lingzhi-scroll at the rounded shoulder, the short cylindrical neck with cloud-wisps, minor surface frits and small star crack to shoulder, fitted box.
Lot 79. A blue and white saucer dish, Encircled Wanli six-character mark and of the period (1573-1620); 6 in. (17.2 cm.) diam. Estimate GBP 2,000 - GBP 3,000. Price realised GBP 1,610. © Christie’s Images Limited 1998
Painted in a strong and rich cobalt blue to the centre with four differing lotus compositions, the rounded sides with flaring rim, painted to the exterior with a lotus-scroll band issuing six large blooms, minute rim frits.
Note: The design on this dish appears to be very rare, although similar aquatic plants, often with fish swimming amongst them, can be found on Ming blue and white dishes from the Xuande period onwards; these, however, invariably have similar aquatic plants with or without fish on the reverse. The lotus scroll on the exterior of this dish seems to be a far rarer combination.
Vividly and freely painted around the thickly potted sides in various shades of cobalt blue, with groups of deer frolicking in a mountainous landscape with tree stumps and swirling clouds, the short neck and lipped rim with alternating butterflies and blossoming prunus sprays within double bands, the foot with a simplified lappet band, the base unglazed, rim frits, wood box.
Note: Compare the pair of blue and white jars and covers of very similar design, but without the lappet band at the foot, in the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm, illustrated in Oriental Ceramics, Kodansha Series, vol.8, pl.247, and by D. Lion-Goldschmidt, Ming Ceramics, New York, 1978, no.183, p.187 (colour plate); this pair of jars was given to Queen Christina of Sweden by the Portuguese Embassy in 1640. A smaller very similarly decorated jar is illustrated in Sekai Toji Zenshu, 1976, vol.14, p.307, fig.218. A smaller jar bearing a Wanli mark and decorated in wucai enamels is in the Musée Guimet, Paris, illustrated by Lion-Goldschmidt, ibid., pl.194, p.197, also illustrated in Oriental Ceramics, 1981, vol.7, colour pl.26.
Lot 82. A large blue and white meiping, Wanli six-character mark around the rim and of the period (1573-1620); 20 in. (52 cm.) high. Estimate GBP 20,000 - GBP 25,000. Price realised GBP 23,000. © Christie’s Images Limited 1998
Painted in a bright cobalt-blue with a continuous landscape with figures among rocks, pine trees and terraces, above a narrow band of scattered blossoms and a row of geometric lappets at the foot, the shoulder with a ruyi-lappet collar enclosing floral sprays, below the mark and the narrow neck with flaring mouth, rim chips infilled, fitted box.
Provenance: Collection of President Herbert Hoover.
Literature: W.E. Cox, The Book of Pottery and Porcelain, vol.1, pl.141
H. Trubner, American Exhibitions of Chinese Art, p.102
Exhibited: Los Angeles County Museum, 14 March - 27 April 1952, no.294.
Note: A similar vase is illustrated in Mayuyama, op.cit., Tokyo, 1976, vol.I, p.318, no.951, and in Chinese Ceramics in the Idemitsu Collection, pl.719; a second was published by J. A. Pope, Chinese Porcelains from the Ardebil Shrine, London, 1981, pl.86, no.29.402, also illustrated by T. Misugi, Chinese Porcelain Collections in the Near East, Topkapi and Ardebil, 1981, p.216, no. A.127, together with another vase of almost identical design to the present lot on p.217, no. A.128. A slightly smaller vase of very similar design and with a cover, is in the National Palace Museum, Taiwan, Blue and White Ware of the Ming Dynasty, Book V, Hong Kong, 1963, pl.2, p.24. Compare also the unmarked example with cover from the Meiyintang Collection, Catalogue, vol. II, no.725, p.101. A smaller meiping of almost identical design was sold Christie's Tokyo, 16 & 17 February 1980, lot 804.
Christie's. MING - THE AGE OF REFINEMENT. London, 16 November 1998