2002_HGK_02110_0602_000() (1)

Lot 602. An exquisite biscuit-decorated Longquan celadon stemcup, Yuan dynasty (1279-1368); 5 1/4 in. (13.4 cm.) highEstimate HKD 400,000 - HKD 600,000. Price realised HKD 717,000© Christie's Image Ltd 2002

Of octagonal section, the cup is finely potted with flaring sides, reserved in biscuit on the exterior of each panel with a cartouche enclosing an egret wading through lotus flowers in relief, the interior crisply moulded with the Eight Buddhist Emblems supported on lotus flowers on the cavetto encircling a central fu, 'Prosperity', character, the tall stem of corresponding octagonal section rising from a spreading foot, the sealed base pierced to form a cash symbol, entirely covered with a celadon glaze of a rich sea-green tone reserving the biscuit burnt to an attractive reddish-brown colour, box.

Note: An identical stemcup, possibly the same one, was included in the Mostra d'Arte Cinese, Exhibition of Chinese Art, Palazzo Ducale, Venice, 1954, illustrated in the Catalogue, no. 445; while another cup with a similar design was included in the exhibition of The George de Menasce Collection, Spink and Son, London, 1972, and illustrated in the Catalogue, no. 232. Cf. also an octagonal stemcup with the Eight Immortals reserved in the biscuit on the exterior, included in the Kau Chi Society of Chinese Art Exhibition of Ancient Chinese Ceramics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 1981, illustrated in the Catalogue, no. 54; and another, sold in Hong Kong, 26 May 1980, lot 424.

The technique of producing biscuit-fired panels on a vertical surface surrounded by celadon glaze was a challenging one that was overcome by the ceramicists at the Longquan kilns during the 14th century. To prevent the celadon glaze from adhering to the surface of the reserved biscuit panels during firing, wax was applied on these areas before the cup was glazed. When the piece was fired, the glaze matured in its usual way, while the wax was burnt off the panels, leaving the clay to be biscuit-fired to a reddish-brown tone that contrasts very well with the soft celadon glaze. Compare also the results of this technique on a meiping in the Percival David Foundation, illustrated by R. E. Scott, Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art: A Guide to the Collection, London, 1989, p. 62, pl. 50, where it is noted that traces of gold have remained on the biscuit panels of the vase, like a number of other wares of this type.

Christie's. The Imperial Sale, Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, Hong Kong, 29 April 2002