Lot 877. A fine wucai 'Dragon and Phoenix' bowl, Kangxi mark and period (1662-1722). Diameter 5 1/8  in., 13 cm. Estimate  50,000 — 70,000 USD. Lot sold 68,750 USD. © Sotheby's

with deep rounded sides, supported on a straight foot sweeping to a gently everted rim, the exterior enameled with alternating iron-red and green dragons and aubergine phoenix against leafy floral stems, below a band of the 'Eight Buddhist Emblems' and ruyi heads, all between line borders, the interior centering a roundel enclosing an iron-red dragon chasing a 'Flaming Pearl' amidst flames, the recessed base inscribed with a six-character reign mark in underglaze blue.

Property from the Collection of Henry H. Arnhold, sold to benefit the Arnhold Foundation.

Provenance: Marchant, London, March 1997.

Literature: Maureen Cassidy-Geiger, The Arnhold Collection of Meissen Porcelain, 1710-50, New York, 2008, pl. 354. 

NoteBowls painted in brilliant wucai enamels with a dragon and phoenix among leafy stems were an innovation of the Kangxi period. This auspicious design, which refers to the Emperor and Empress and conveys the wish for a happy marriage, grew in popularity in the succeeding reigns, and were produced through the Daoguang and Xianfeng periods. 

Similar Kangxi mark and period bowls of three different sizes from the Nanjing Museum, were included in the exhibition Qing Imperial Porcelain of the Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong Reigns, Art Gallery, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1995, cat. no. 26; a pair in the Shanghai Museum, is illustrated in Kangxi Porcelain Wares from the Shanghai Museum Collection, Hong Kong, 1998, pl. 153; a single bowl from the collection of C.P. Lin was included in the exhibition Elegant Form and Harmonious Decoration, Percival David Foundation, London, 1992, cat. no. 121; and a pair was included in the Hong Kong Oriental Ceramic Society exhibition Ch’ing Polychrome Porcelain, Fung Ping Shan Museum, Hong Kong, 1977, cat. no. 32.

For examples sold at auction, see two sold in these rooms, 20th March 2019, lot 531, and 13th September 2017, lot 3. See also one sold in our London rooms, 10th May 2017, lot 228. 

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