06 septembre 2019

A rare reverse-decorated powder-blue 'Gardenia' dish, Mark and period of Yongzheng (1723-1735)

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Lot 626. A rare reverse-decorated powder-blue 'Gardenia' dish, Mark and period of Yongzheng (1723-1735). Diameter 13 1/8  in., 33.3 cm. Estimate 300,000 — 500,000 USD. Lot Sold 375,000 USD. © Sotheby's.

 with shallow rounded sides resting on a short foot, the interior centered with a medallion enclosing a gardenia spray, surrounded by four similar sprays around the cavetto and a matching continuous scroll on the exterior, all reserved against a finely speckled cobalt-blue ground, the floral and foliate details of the design rendered in white slip, the base inscribed with a six-character mark in underglaze blue within a double circle.

Provenance: Sotheby's New York, 22nd March 2001, lot 106.

Note: With its white reserve decoration on a cobalt-blue ground, this pattern seems to be ultimately based on prototypes of the Xuande period with a single flower spray in the center, such as a dish in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, included in the Museum's exhibition Mingdai Xuande guanyao jinghua tezhan tulu/Catalogue of the Special Exhibition of Selected Hsüan-te Imperial Porcelains of the Ming Dynasty, Taipei, 1998, pl. 193. A somewhat closer design was developed in the Wanli reign, with four flowers in the center, for example, on a dish in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Blue and White Porcelain with Underglazed Red, Shanghai, 2000, vol. 2, pl. 195.

The early Ming design was also copied more closely in the Yongzheng period, as can be seen on a dish in the Shanghai Museum illustrated in Lu Minghua, Mingdai guanyao ciqi [Ming imperial porcelain], Shanghai, 2007, pl. 5-33. Whereas both the Xuande prototype and the Shanghai Museum Yongzheng version are covered with an even, dark cobalt-blue glaze, the Wanli example has the ground painted in underglaze cobalt blue, and on the present dish the pigment was blown onto the vessel through a tube covered with gauze, which produced this finely speckled powder-blue effect.

A similar dish in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, is illustrated in Suzanne G. Valenstein, A Handbook of Chinese Ceramics, New York, 1989, pl. 248. The Meiyintang Collection also contains a blue and white dish, together with a bowl, decorated in the same technique, and a similar dish with the design colored in yellow, see Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, London, 1994-2010, vol. 2, nos 843, 842 and 844; the Meiyintang dish, formerly in the collections of Edward G. Kennedy and Edward Kennedy Torrington, was acquired at Christie's New York, 2nd December 1989, lot 370, and sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 7th April 2011, lot 75. A further example sold in the same rooms, 3rd April 2018, lot 3617.  

Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art, New York, 10 september 2019. 


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