A Rare Blue and White ‘Rosette’ Moonflask, Yongle Period (1403-1424)

Lot 3581. A Rare Blue and White ‘Rosette’ Moonflask, Yongle Period (1403-1424). H 26cm. Sold for HKD 6,800,000 (Estimate HKD 5,200,000 - 6,800,000). © Poly Auction Hong Kong Limited 2022

The bowl is of lavish mouth and curved belly, with a footrim, and is of handsome and dignified form, with a solid body and a lustrous glaze. The exterior is painted in iron-red with a dragon fighting for a pearl, the colour pure, the dragon in a powerful, sweeping pose, the physique unrestrained and athletic, the brushwork exquisite in its boldness, and the imposing manner. The foot inscribed in blue and white seal script, 'Made in the Jiajing year of the Ming dynasty'.

Provenance: 1. Enrico Maestrini Collection
2. Eskenazi Ltd, London
3. Meiyintang Collection, Switzerland.

Published1. Kang Ruijun, The Meiyintang  Collection of Chinese Ceramics, Volume IV (I), London, 1994-2010, p. 99, no. 1644
2. Eskenazi, A Dealer's Hand: The Chinese Art World Through the Eyes of Giuseppe Eskenazi, London, 2012, p. 312, plate 336.

Note: This is one of the classic early Ming imperial kiln forms, in the form of a gourd, with a recessed upper lip and bulging belly, a central girdle, and a flattened, rounded lower abdomen. It is supported by a low, rounded footrim. The sides of the neck and shoulders are set with symmetrical shoushou lu ('shou') handles. The entire body is covered with a white glaze, which is rich and lustrous, and is decorated with blue and white floral designs, all separated by double-stringed lines, the upper part decorated with a banded floral design, the ears with a banded lotus design, and the lower abdomen with a double-sided floral design, the outer ring with a Qian design. The blue and black colour of the blue and white floral motifs is slightly diffused, with a blue-black tinge in the heavier areas, and the rust patina is sunken into the bones. The composition is sparse and elegant, and the patterns are realistic and subtle. The artist is skilled in the art of sketching, drawing, dabbing, and dyeing, all of which are used appropriately, and the brushwork varies in intensity and dispersion, thus giving the painting a lush, verdant interest and a sense of timeless elegance.

The whole vessel is clearly of a strong Islamic style in shape and decoration, and since the reopening of overseas trade and trade in the third year of the Yongle era and the promotion of the sacred virtues of the dynasty, there has been close interaction between China and the outside world, and there has been much cross-fertilization in shape and decoration. Most of the forms were influenced by the gold, silver and bronze wares of West Asia, or were produced in imitation of the metal wares of West Asia. The shape of this piece is similar to that found on Islamic gold and silver wares of the thirteenth century, and in addition to the foreign style of the shape, the decoration of this piece also uses floral and botanical twining patterns that are rich in Middle Eastern colours, which can be described as a combination of the best of ancient and modern, and a fusion of Chinese and foreign styles. The Qing dynasty's Lan Pu, in his "Catalogue of Pottery in Jingdezhen", commented that "the porcelain of the Yong kiln is of fine clay, thick in texture, with deep blue and green flowers. 

This type of flat vase form was popular during the Yongxuan period and is unique to the Second Dynasty. A similar example was excavated from the porcelain deposit at the site of the Ming Imperial kiln factory in Jingdezhen, in Excavations of Early Ming Official Porcelain from Jingdezhen, Taipei, 1996, no. 65, and another example, stored in the Umezawa Memorial Museum, Tokyo, in The Complete Collection of World Pottery and Magnetism, vol. 14, 1978, plate 144. Another example is found in the Osman Sultan Collection, Turkey, in Kang Ruijun, Chinese Ceramics in the Topkapi Saray Museum, Istanbul, vol. 2, 1986, plate 616. Also see an example in the Shanghai Museum Collection, in The Exhibition of Blue and White Magnetic Ware, no. 16. There is also an example in the collection of the National Museum of China, in the collection of Jingguan Tang and Huang Dingxuan, in Hao Gu Min Qiu: The Thirty-Fifth Anniversary of the Min Qiu Refuge, 1995, no. 124; and an example of a similar flat vase in the collection of the National Museum of China, in Studies of Cultural Objects in the National Museum of China Collection. A similar example in the collection of the National Palace of Taipei, decorated with a similar design to this example, is in the Catalogue of the Ming Xuande Porcelain Special Exhibition, no. 9, and a comparable example in the Xuande Collection, decorated on one side with a similar pattern of the Baoxiang wheel, and on the other side with a central panel of the eight trigrams of the Taiji yin and yang, surrounded by a circle of entwined flowers, is in the Sir David Collection, now in the British Museum, in R. L. Hobson A Catalogue of Chinese Pottery and Porcelain in the Collection of Sir Percival David, London, 1934, CXVII; the Palace Museum has two flat bottles in the old Qing collection, one of similar form, but made in the Xuande period and signed, and the other The other is of the same form as this one, without a mark, and with a larger mouth, both of which are included in Geng Baochang, Early Ming Porcelain in the Palace Museum. Volume 1, 2005, plates 84 and 85.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version).

Poly Auction Hong Kong Limited. A Romance Among Blooming Roses: The Meiyintang Collection of Three Dynasties Imperial Ceramics, Hong Kong, 2 Dec 2021