As one of the five colours derived from the Five Elements (wuxing), yellow surpassed the other imperial colours of reddish-black (xuan) and purple (zi) to become the emblem of the emperor. It was thought that the emperor was located in the centre of the five directions and the centre was represented by the earth element and the colour yellow. This ‘imperial yellow’ glaze was produced at the imperial kilns in Jingdezhen throughout the Ming dynasty, and was achieved by adding ferric oxide (3.5 %) to the lead silicate base, making this glaze a direct descendant of the yellow lead glazes of the Tang dynasty.
Cups of this distinctive deep flared shape are a Jiajing innovation and more commonly known in slightly larger proportions; for example, see a cup from the Sir Percival David Collection and now in the British Museum, London, included in Illustrated Catalogue of Ming and Qing Monochrome Wares in the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, London, 1989, no. A 595; one from the collections of Mrs B.Z. Seligman and Sir Alfred Aykroyd, sold in our London rooms, 15th May 1966, lot 36, and at Christie’s London, 7th June 2004, lot 281; another sold in our London rooms, 26th July 1966, lot 68, and in these rooms, 2nd May 2000, lot 506 from the Hall Family Collection; and two pairs sold in these rooms, the first from the collections of Edward T. Chow and T.Y. Chao, 19th May 1981, lot 452, and 18th November 1986, lot 68, and the second, from the Meiyintang Collection, 7th April 2011, lot 62. Compare also a cup of similar size but slightly shallower, in the British Museum, London, illustrated in Jessica Harrison-Hall, Ming Ceramics in the British Museum, London, 2001, pl. 9:73.
Cups of this type are also known covered in other monochrome glazes, as well as painted in underglaze blue; see for example a blue-glazed cup and a slightly smaller white-glazed example from the Hall Family Collection, sold in these rooms, 2nd May 2000, lots 510 and 509; and a pair of cups painted with rams in underglaze blue, included in the exhibition The Fame of Flame. Imperial Wares of the Jiajing and Wanli Periods, Art Gallery, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2009, cat. no. 12.
Samuel C. Davis graduated from Harvard University in 1893 and began collecting Chinese ceramics early in the 20th century, guided by C.T. Loo. More than 200 selected pieces of Chinese porcelain from the Samuel C. Davis Collection were bequeathed to the Saint Louis Museum of Art, over 100 Chinese ceramics from the collection were given to Harvard, and many Chinese porcelains were kept by his family.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale