An important and rare mallow-shaped 'numbered' Jun-glazed jardiniere with matching stand, Yuan-Ming dynasty, 14th-15th century

Lot 3976. An important and rare mallow-shaped 'numbered' Jun-glazed jardiniere with matching stand, Yuan-Ming dynasty, 14th-15th century; 8 3/4 in. (22.2 cm.) wide, jardiniere; 8 in. (20.2 cm.), wideEstimate HKD 6,000,000 - HKD 8,000,000Price realised HKD 16,340,000© Christie's Images Ltd 2012.

The jardiniere is of elegant flared mallow-flower shape, rising in six crisply potted bracket lobes and flaring to the lipped everted rim, all applied with an outstanding lavender-blue glaze with areas of dark purplish-blue and draining along the rim and places between the lobes. The unglazed base with five drainage holes is incised with the number jiu, nine. It is supported on a matching lobed stand also incised with jiu on the base, covered with a similar lavender-blue glaze and supported on three cabriole ruyi-shaped feet, stand, box.

ProvenanceLi Haizhao Collection, as inscribed on the fitted box
Sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 7 May 2002, lot 520
The property of a Hong Kong collector, sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 8 October 2008, lot 2533.

LiteratureSotheby's Thirty Years in Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2003, p. 124, pl. 100.

Note: Jun-glazed jardinieres, or flower pots, with stands of matching numbers appear to be extremely rare. The Tianjin Municipal Museum of Art has a flower pot stand of the same lobed mallow-petal form as the current jardiniere with an impressed number, san, 'three', on its base, illustrated in Tianjin shi yishu bowuguan cangci, Hong Kong, 1993, no. 37. A similar blue-glazed jardiniere, inscribed with numeral 'five' is illustrated in A Panorama of Ceramics in the Collection of the National Palace Museum: Chun Ware, Taipei, 1999, pl. 23, together with a larger one, bearing the numeral 'one', pl. 21.

According to R. Scott in Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art: A Guide to the Collection, London, 1989, p. 64, twin moulds were used in the production of lobed jardinieres like the current example, which would have facilitated the making of the flanged rims and lobed walls. The author also suggests the numbers on these jardinieres are indicative of their relative sizes, and a comparable jardiniere incised with the number 'two', from the Percival David Foundation, now housed in the British Museum, is illustrated in the same publication.

Christie's. The Imperial Sale,  Hong Kong, 30 May 2012