26 octobre 2020

A fine and rare doucai 'dragon' dish, mark and period of Yongzheng (1723-1735)

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Lot 3638. A fine and rare doucai 'dragon' dish, mark and period of Yongzheng (1723-1735); 20.1 cm, 7 ⅞ inEstimate: 1,000,000 - 1,500,000 HKD. Lot sold 1,260,000 HKD. Courtesy Sotheby's.

vibrantly painted on the interior with a green five-clawed dragon in pursuit of a flaming pearl amongst flames and multi-coloured clouds, the reverse decorated with further cloud scrolls, the base inscribed with an underglaze-blue six-character reign mark.

Provenance: Collection of Herbert Carmichael (1914-1986), inventory no. 1800, and thence by descent in the family.

Note: It is exceptional to find a Yongzheng doucai dish decorated with this striking dragon design of this large size, and no other example appears to be recorded. A smaller example was however sold in these rooms, 8th October 2019, lot 3602. Compare also another smaller example in the Hong Kong Museum of Art, included in the exhibition The Wonders of the Potter’s Palette, Hong Kong, 1984, cat. no. 45. This piece belongs to a distinct group of doucai dishes painted with ferocious side-facing dragons at the centre and with colourful wispy clouds on the well. Known as wuse yun (Five-coloured clouds), they were considered potent auspicious omens, and multiple sightings of them are recorded in palace documents (Lin Lina, ‘Yongzheng chao zhu xiangrui fuying [Auspicious signs of the Yongzheng period]', Harmony and Integrity: The Yongzheng Emperor and His Times, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 2009, pp. 391-393). Auspicious motifs flourished in the Yongzheng period, probably due to the somewhat unusual circumstances that led the Emperor to the throne, which raised persistent questions over his right to rule and thus made him particularly receptive of these designs. 

The bowl is from the collection of the Carmichael family, East Yorkshire, who owned the famous department store, Carmichael’s, often referred to as the “Harrods of the North”. There were four Carmichael brothers who owned the business, and this dish has come from direct descent through the nephew of one of the four brothers, Herbert Carmichael (1914-1986) who gifted pieces to the Worcester Museum. Herbert retired in the 1960s when the family sold the business and moved to Scarborough. His collection was left to his daughter and then to his nephew who was the last inheritor. The nephew had the original inventory list when the family lived at Hotham Hall, and this dish still preserves the reference no. 1800.

Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art. 9 October 2020

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