18 novembre 2022

A rare wucai 'lotus pond' rouleau vase, Circa 1640

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Lot 27. A rare wucai 'lotus pondrouleau vase, Circa 1640; 9.7cm (3 3/4in) high and 8cm (3 1/4in) high. (2). Sold for £60,780 (Estimate £30,000 - 50,000). © Bonhams 2001-2022

Deftly painted in blue and enamelled in shades of iron-red, aubergine, green and yellow around the exterior with a continuous scene of lotus and aquatic fauna issuing from the water, the shore with one egret resting, one standing and one eating some water-weeds, another two egrets flying in the air amidst red-enamelled clouds, all beneath floral sprays around the neck.

ProvenanceS. Marchant and Son Ltd., London
Roy Davids (1943-2017), collection no.69, acquired on 28 June 2005
Bonhams London, The Roy Davids Collection of Chinese Ceramics, 6 November 2014, lot 47.

NoteLotus and their depiction in ponds were beloved by the literati since the Neo-Confucian scholar Zhou Dunyi (1017-1073) wrote his essay 'On Loving Lotus' (Ai lian shuo). In his essay, Zhou likened the scholar-gentleman to the lotus who 'remains pure despite growing from the mud' ('出淤泥而不染'). During the tumultuous transitional era between the Ming and Qing dynasties, the pure lotus that rises from the mud would have resonated strongly with scholar-officials and encapsulated a hopeful attitude.

Sleeve vases of this large size decorated in the wucai palette are exceedingly rare. Only a handful of examples decorated with flowering branches and birds have been published. These include one from a private collection, illustrated by M.Butler, Julia B.Curtis and S.Little illustrated in Shunzhi Porcelain: Treasures from an Unknown Reign, 1644-1661, Alexandria, 2002, pp. 126-129, no.22.2; and one in the collection of Sir Michael Butler, illustrated by M.Butler, M.Medley, S.Little in Seventeenth-Century Chinese Porcelain from the Butler Family Collection, Alexandria, 1990, p.154, no.101. Another related wucai rouleau vase, circa 1640-1670, decorated with peacocks, is illustrated by R.Kilburn, Transitional Wares and Their Forerunners, Hong Kong, 1981, no.176.

Compare with a related wucai sleeve vase, decorated with various flowers and rocks, Shunzhi, which was sold at Christie's New York, An Era of Inspiration: 17th Century Chinese Porcelains from the Collection of Julia and John Curtis, 16 March 2015, lot 3547.

Bonhams. THE MARSH COLLECTION ART FOR THE LITERATI, 3 November 2022, London, New Bond Street

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