A fine blue and white 'floral' barbed charger, Ming dynasty, Yongle period (1403-1424)

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Lot 3607. A fine blue and white 'floral' barbed charger, Ming dynasty, Yongle period (1403-1424); 38 cm, 15 inEstimate: 3,000,000 - 5,000,000 HKD. Lot sold 3,528,000 HKD. Courtesy Sotheby's.

with shallow rounded sides divided into twelve bracket foliations, rising from a short circular tapered foot to a barbed everted rim, superbly painted in shades of cobalt blue with ‘heaping and piling’, the interior with a central peony bloom wreathed by meandering scrolls of lotus, hibiscus, camellia and gardenia, surrounded by detached sprays of peony, chrysanthemum, pomegranate, hibiscus, morning glory and lotus, each repeated twice and paired across the dish, all within a border of scrolling ruyi heads, the exterior similarly painted.

Note: The present dish is a fine example of the technical developments achieved by potters during the early Ming dynasty. One of the most striking decorative innovations of early 15th century wares was the use of separate floral sprays in the cavettos instead of the continuous scroll. The heavy wreath of lotus or peony found on 14th century dishes gave way to a series of delicate and more varied motifs. Two sets of six flower sprays were commonly repeated so that each pair of flowers sat diagonally opposite each other.

A closely related dish in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, was included in the Special Exhibition of Early Ming Period Porcelain, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1982, cat. no. 37; one in the National Museum of China is published in Zhongguo Guojia Bowuguan guancang wenwu yanjiu congshu/Studies on the Collections of the National Museum of ChinaCiqi juanMingdai [Porcelain section: Ming dynasty], Shanghai, 2007, pl. 20; another in the British Museum, London, is illustrated in Jessica Harrison-Hall, Ming Ceramics in the British Museum, London, 2001, pl. 3:35; and a fourth example, published in Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, vol. 2, London, 1994, pl. 663, was sold in these rooms, 8th April 2013, lot 20. Three further dishes from the Ardabil Shrine in the National Museum of Iran, Tehran, are included in John Alexander Pope, Chinese Porcelains from the Ardebil Shrine, Washington, D.C., 1956, pl. 35; and a dish in the British Museum is shown next to a related pottery copy from Iznik in Turkey in Jessica Rawson, Chinese Ornament. The Lotus and the Dragon, London, 1984, pl. 163. See also a dish of this type in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, included in Pleasingly Pure and Lustrous: Porcelains from the Yongle Reign of the Ming Dynasty. Guidebook, Taipei, 2017, pp. 70-71. 

Although examples of this exact design have not been recorded from the excavations of the Ming imperial kiln site, similar large dishes of this form, painted with related designs, have come to light in the Yongle stratum of the site; see, for example, the dish included in the exhibition Yongle Imperial Porcelain Excavated at Zhushan, Jingdezhen, Capital Museum, Beijing, 2007, cat. no. 68.

Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art, 9 October 2020, Hong Kong