Lot 3586. A Blue-Ground and Copper-Red ‘Dragon’ Bowl, Mark and Period of Kangxi (1662-1722)D 15.8cm. Sold for HKD 816,000 (Estimate HKD 450,000 - 680,000)© Poly Auction Hong Kong Limited 2022

The bowl has a lavish mouth, a deep belly, and a rimmed foot; the body is covered in blue glaze, with the mouth and upper part of the footrim outlined in glaze red for one week each, and the outer wall of the bowl darkly engraved with a seawater dragon, the body of the dragon then filled with glaze red colouring. The dragon's head is powerful, its eyes rounded, its body sinuous, its claws powerful, and its body of the dragon distinctly layered with shades of colour, the white glaze on the interior warm and lustrous, the foot signed in blue and white 'Made in the Kangxi period of the Qing dynasty' in six characters in regular script with a double circle. The entire vessel is elegant and graceful, presenting an elegant and dignified royal aura. This is an exceptional and rare example of Kangxi imperial porcelain, with its red dragons in blue glaze.

Provenance1. Old collection of Mr. Yanzhi Qiu
2. Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 19 May 1981, no. 542
3. Meiyintang Collection, Switzerland.

ExhibitionEvolution to Perfection: Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, Sporting d'Hiver, Monte Carlo, 1996, no. 146.

Publication: Kang Ruijun, The Meiyintang Collection of Chinese Ceramics, vol. 2, London, 1994-2010, p. 188, no. 836

Note: This bowl is a standard palace bowl style. The Kangxi reign saw the resumption of red-glaze firing, and the technique was used more freely than in the Ming dynasty, with many copies of works from the previous dynasty in circulation. The blue glaze and the red dragons in the glaze are both of excellent colour and stability, and the concealed decoration is finely drawn, making this an excellent imitation of the Yongxuan official kilns of the Kangxi period. A very similar example is in the collection of the Shanghai Museum, in Kangxi Porcelain in the Shanghai Museum Collection, 1998, p. 119, fig. 81.

The Kangxi six-character mark is written in regular script, unlike the regular script of the mid- to late-Kangxi Yongzheng mark, so it appears to be an early Kangxi imitation of Yongxuan, the earliest batch made before and after the nineteenth year of the Kangxi era. According to historical records, Zang Yingxian, Lang Tingji and Liu Yuan were among the most famous officials in charge of the kilns during the Kangxi period, with Liu Yuan having the greatest achievements. Liu Yuan was a talented and versatile minister of the Ministry of Works during the Kangxi period, and after the reopening of the imperial kiln in the 19th year of the Kangxi era, he was commissioned to design various types of imperial porcelain, specialising in the production of five-colour and doucai wares, which was a remarkable achievement. The Qing dynasty's Historical Manuscript says: "At the time of the opening of the imperial kiln in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province, hundreds of porcelain samples were presented. With reference to the ancient and modern styles, he used new ideas and stored ingenuity. The painting of figures, landscapes, flowers and birds is particularly remarkable. When it was completed, it was more exquisite than any other kiln of the Ming dynasty. All of the early Kangxi imperial porcelain seen today that resembles this work must have come from Liu Yuan's hand.

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