Lot 3018. A very fine and rare doucai 'sanduo' bowl, mark and period of Yongzheng (1723-1735); 16 cm, 6 1/4 in. Estimate 2,500,000 — 3,500,000 HKD (318,325 - 445,655 USD). Lot Sold 6,415,000 HKD (816,822 USD). Courtesy Sotheby's.
well potted with deep rounded sides rising from a gently tapered foot to a flared rim, the exterior finely painted in bright enamels within an underglaze-blue outline, depicting three detached branches of flowering and fruiting sanduo including pomegranate, finger citron and lychee, the interior similarly adorned with a central medallion enclosing a single flowering branch of two succulent peaches, all within double-line borders, the base with a six-character reign mark within a double circle.
Provenance: Collection of Sam'l C. Davis (1871-1940), one of a pair.
Sotheby's New York, 27th November 1990, lot 190.
Note: The present bowl is a superb example of Yongzheng doucai porcelain in its clever manipulation of a restricted palette to create a variety of colours and textures. The doucai technique of drawing in underglaze-blue outlines and colouring in enamel washes, traditionally made use of the wucai (famille-verte) palette but later also incorporated fencai (famille-rose) enamels. The colour scheme used on this bowl is particularly interesting; only one of the fruiting branches, that of the pomegranates, uses a rose-pink enamel but not in the typical fencai combination with an opaque white, but superimposed on yellow. This has created a most original tone which is otherwise very rarely seen and suggests an early date in the Yongzheng reign. Furthermore the stippled iron red in the fruit enhances its sense of three dimensionality while endowing it with a naturalistic texture.
The pair to the present lot from the collection of Sam'l C. Davis was sold separately in our New York rooms, 26th November 1991, lot 356, and published in Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, vol. 4, pt. II, London, 2010, pl. 1749, and sold in these rooms, 7th April 2011, lot 7. Three further bowls were sold in these rooms, a pair, 15th May 1990, lot 286; and a single bowl, 11th April 2008, lot 2834.
The design of fruiting branches references two of the Yongzheng Emperor's passions: his reverence of antiquity and his love of auspicious symbols, both of which surrounded his residences and belongings. The present design, with sprays of fruiting finger citron, lychee and pomegranate, represents a variation of the auspicious sanduo (‘three abundances’) motif, as harbingers of endless long life, an abundance of offspring and plentiful blessings. The pomegranate bursting with seeds symbolises the wish for plentiful offspring; the lychee, with its Chinese name, lizhi, is homophonous with the phrase ‘establish a son’ (lizi) and represents abundance of offspring; and the finger citron, often referred to as 'the Buddha's hand' is an emblem of longevity, happiness and good fortune. They have been rendered in a style reminiscent of Chenghua doucai prototypes in an acknowledgement of the technique pioneered during the Ming Emperor's reign; compare a bowl decorated with medallions of fruiting branches, in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, included in the Special Exhibition of Ch'eng-hua Porcelain Ware, 1465-1487, Taipei, 2003, cat. no. 151.
Sotheby's. An Important Collection of Chinese Ceramics, Hong Kong, 08 Oct 2019