A Gilt-Decorated Iron-Red Glazed ‘Lotus’ Stem Bowl, Jiajing Period (1522-1566)

Lot 3584. A Gilt-Decorated Iron-Red Glazed ‘Lotus’ Stem Bowl, Jiajing Period (1522-1566). D 13.3cm. Sold for HKD 300,000 (Estimate HKD 150,000 - 250,000)© Poly Auction Hong Kong Limited 2022

The bowl is of dignified form, with a rounded belly and flared open mouth, supported by a high, graceful footrim. The vessel is covered with a rich, saturated iron-red colour, and decorated with the 'common gold' method, in which gold leaf is applied to the surface of the vessel and the design is then delicately drawn with fine needle strokes and polished with onyx stone, resulting in a dazzling and luminous pattern. For example, in this example, the outer wall is painted with a lingzhi (a flowering lotus) pattern, the lines of which are lush and fervent, the branches curving freely, and the branches flowing and active in an endless stream. This technique is described in Jiangxi Dazhi: 'Gold painting is done by firing a white layer of gold onto a full yellow surface and over-colouring the kiln. If the iron red is passed through the furnace fire, the gold is pasted twice and passed through the furnace fire twice, the remaining colour is not on the full yellow. This technique was so popular in Japan that it became known as 'gold gilding', and is still used in Japanese ceramics today.

Provenance1. Old collection of Mr. Hiroaki Mano (1906-1998)
2. Former collection of the Mano Museum of Art, Osaka, no. 481
3. Christie's Hong Kong, 28 October 2002, no. 547
4. Meiyintang Collection, Switzerland.

Published: Kang Ruijun, The Meiyintang Collection of Chinese Ceramics, Volume IV (I), London, 1994-2010, p. 159, no. 1684.

Note: This type of low-temperature, gold-painted ware was used for a short time during the Jiajing reign, for example, in the archives of the imperial porcelain manufactory at Jingdezhen in the thirty-first year of the Jiajing reign, where there is a record of 'one hundred pure blue plates with seawater dragons and three lions and dragons on auspicious clouds'. However, due to the tedious nature of the process, the high kiln temperature requirements, and the tendency for the gold to peel off, relatively complete gold-painted wares such as this one are rare, and can be considered quite precious. A similar example, with its gilding mostly indecipherable, is in the British Museum, London, formerly in the Harry Oppenheim Collection, in Jessica Harrison-Hall, Ming Ceramics in the British Museum, London, 2001, no. 9:68. In Ming No Pottery, Yoshida, 1982, plate 140, from the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, with a gilt-bronze goblet underneath. Another bowl in the collection of the Shanghai Museum, inscribed 'Made in the Jiajing year of the Ming dynasty', is also inscribed in gilt on a red ground, making its date of manufacture even more clear.

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