Lot 3303. A rare large blue and white 'dragon' jar, Wanli six-character mark within double circles and of the period (1573-1619); 20 1/4 in. (51.5 cm.) high. Estimate HKD 800,000 - HKD 1,200,000. Price Realized HKD 2,320,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2013
The jar is sturdily potted with gently rounded sides rising to a short waisted neck below a lipped rim, finely painted on the exterior in vivid blue tones with a ferocious five-clawed dragon with well-defined scales turning its head to the companion dragon following behind, separated by a stylised coiled Shou character, all beneath a register of scrolling lingzhi and above breaking waves crashing against rocky outcrops. The base is unglazed with the exception of the central circular recessed panel inscribed with the reign mark.
Provenance: The collection of Dr. Bernard Gaiter (1927-2013), Randan, France, purchased in the 1960s from a French aristocratic family.
Note: The Jiajing version of this design usually depicts the dragons with almost spherical heads and large bulbous eyes, while the Wanli examples, like the current jar, depict the dragons with a traditional reptilian head that is more powerful and in keeping with the dynamic and sinuous body. A jar of about the same size and design is in the Shanghai Museum, illustrated in Mingdai guanyao ciqi, Shanghai, 2007, no. 1-76. A slightly larger jar with similar decoration is in the collection of the Topkapi Saray Museum, illustrated by J. Ayers and R. Krahl in Chinese Ceramics in the Topkapi Saray Museum, Istanbul, vol. II, London, 1986, no. 1328. Another jar of this design is in the collection of the National Museum of History, Taipei, illustrated in Special Exhibition of the National Museum of History's Chinese Ceramic Collection through the Ages, Taipei, 1977, p. 106, no. 90. A slightly smaller example, formerly in the Manno Art Museum, was sold at Christie's London, 1 June 2001, lot 92.