Lot 5
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  • ceramic
finely potted with shallow rounded sides rising from a slightly splayed foot, exquisitely veiled in a luminous and translucent bluish-green glaze suffused with a dense network of glistening ice crackles, the glaze thinning at the extremities to subtly reveal the body beneath and pooling particularly along the cavetto and foot to an unctuous caesious colour, the underside with three delicate 'sesame-seed' spur marks


Sotheby's London, 15th June 1982, lot 252.
Collection of the Chang Foundation, Taipei.


Ching Wan Society Twentieth Anniversary Exhibition: Works of Art, Taipei, 2012, cat. no. 24.


James Spencer (comp.), Selected Chinese Ceramics from Han to Qing Dynasties, Chang Foundation, Taipei, 1990, cat. no. 40.


The piece is in near perfect condition, with just a barely visible 1cm hairline from the rim, and a minute 0.1cm flake on the rim.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Regina Krahl

Ru guanyao, the official ware of the late Northern Song (960-1127) court from the kilns in Ruzhou, in modern Baofeng county, Henan province, has in the course of nearly a millennium gained quasi mythical status. Ru ware is a part of China’s history, an emblem of China’s philosophy, a metaphor for China’s aesthetics – in short, an icon of China’s culture. The small and unobtrusive ceramic pieces are considered the epitome of the Chinese potters’ craft, but they are far more than just that, they have a significant story to tell. They can be considered the crowning glory of any collection of Chinese works of art, but they are and always were virtually unobtainable.

With its glowing, intense blue-green glaze, its luminous, complex interlaced ‘ice crackle’ pattern, its classic, excellently proportioned shape, and its three fine ‘sesame seed’ spur marks, the present brush washer, formerly in the collection of the Chang Foundation in the Hongxi Museum, Taipei, is a picture-book example of Ru guanyao and incarnates to perfection the ware’s revered qualities. It would be difficult to find a better ambassador for Ru ware.

Although Ru ware – unlike guan ware of Hangzhou – is very distinctive, it still shows great variation in the glaze, which can range from a pale milky-opaque green without any crackle, as seen on the brush washer sold in these rooms in 2012 (no. 29 in our list, below), to the intense, glassy blue-green with a light-catching crackle in superimposed, horizontal, flake-like layers, known as ‘ice’ or ‘broken ice crackle’, found on the present piece. While some connoisseurs expressed a preference for the former, as, for example, the early Ming (1368-1644) writer Cao Zhao in his collectors’ handbook Ge gu yao lun [The essential criteria of antiquities], the latter seems to have been the ideal that the Hangzhou official (guan) kilns of the Southern Song (1127-1279) tried to recreate. Both types are extremely rare, and there are many variations in between, some rather matt and greyish, others with predominating, sometimes stained, crackle lines, that cut vertically through the glaze layer without reflecting light.

Whatever one’s taste in this matter, there can be no doubt that this ravishingly beautiful vessel represents one of the most desirable examples extant. Pieces closest to the present piece in glaze quality would seem to be one of the examples in the Sir Percival David Collection (53), one of the pair in the Röhsska Museum (57), and the piece in the Princessehof Museum (59). The list of preserved specimens suggests, that the best glazes were achieved on the smaller and simpler vessel shapes, while on the larger and more complex forms glazes often turned out less remarkable or even untypical, as on the famous pear-shaped vase in the Sir Percival David Collection, which Wang Qingzheng therefore went as far as doubting altogether (Wang et al., 1991, p. 116).

The exquisite state of preservation of this washer would have required reverential handling over thousands of generations during its nine-hundred-year long history. The extreme rarity of Ru wares, which can hardly be overstated, is due to a combination of factors. When looking through the list of extant Ru pieces, it becomes clear that the Ru kilns did not practise large-scale series production. Of many shapes, only one or two examples are known, and vessels of the same basic form tend to differ in size and proportion and may be fired on three or on five spurs. Of the five extant bottles (nos 1-5), for example, only two are similar in form; the six ‘narcissus basins’ (nos 6-11) come in at least two sizes; one of the three incense burners (nos 12-14) is much larger than the other two; and the thirty-three brush washers (nos 30-62) vary in profile and range in size from 12.3 cm to 16.7 cm, without any particular size predominating.

Unlike in south China, where individual ‘dragon’ kilns in the Longquan area for example, could extend to lengths of 100 m, Ru kilns were small bun-shaped (mantou) kilns less than 2 m long. Their capacity was further limited by the fact that Ru pieces were fired standing upright, each in its own saggar, rather than stacked upside down, like Ding wares, and the method of firing them, precariously balanced on rings or pads with three or five thin pointed stilts, undoubtedly led to many failures. In addition, pieces were generally fired more than once, first for the biscuit, and then at least once more for the glaze. Glaze crazing, originally an undesired effect of the different contraction of body and glaze during the cooling process, was first discovered as an asset on Ru ware; yet an attractive crackle pattern refracting the light, like in mineral formations occurring in nature, requires a happy coincidence of circumstances and cannot be produced at will.

Ru ware evokes patriotic sentiments and nostalgic thoughts of glorious eras of China’s past, such as the reign of the Northern Song Emperor Huizong (r. 1101-1125), one of China’s greatest imperial art enthusiasts and connoisseurs; or that of the Southern Song (1127-1279) Emperor Gaozong (r. 1127-1162), who strove to recreate some of the dynasty’s lost splendour in the new southern capital Hangzhou, although this had just been intended as a temporary abode for the court, after it had been forced to flee from invading foreigners.

Ru official ware was made for only a very short period of time, generally believed not to have exceeded twenty years, during the reigns of the Northern Song Emperors Zhezong (r. 1086-1100) and Huizong. The two decades from 1086 to 1106 put forward by Chen Wanli (Chen 1951) are still largely accepted as the most likely period of its production, even though some scholars have proposed slight variations. Although we have no indication of any direct imperial involvement in its creation, an imperial complaint about the unglazed rims of the white Ding wares from Hebei apparently led to an imperial order of green wares from Ruzhou in Henan instead, the first direct commission of ceramics by an imperial court, which until then had relied on tribute wares supplied by various manufactories.

A taste for a ware so extremely modest and unspectacular could only evolve from a world view that propagated modesty and honesty over ostentation and pretence. This taste in ceramics manifested itself at a period, when the influential, idealist politician Wang Anshi (1021-1086) postulated, and practised himself, an austere and frugal lifestyle, and when amateur literati painters, whose concepts differed dramatically from those of the art academy professionals, pursued simplicity and artlessness in painting. Instead of displaying complex skills in elaborate compositions, they favoured natural and spontaneous depictions of humble motifs. As painters tried to render the atmosphere of a landscape at a specific moment, at a certain time of day or in certain weather conditions, potters were admired for achieving glazes of a specific shade (“approaching the blue of the sky after rain”), rather than for the shiny green surface in general that in the Tang dynasty (618-907) had evoked comparisons with jade. The non-precious ceramic material, the variation of hues achieved in the firing and the accidental crackle patterns appearing during cooling accorded perfectly with the new endorsement of simplicity, subtlety and spontaneity in art – a form of understatement and connoisseurship that appealed to China’s elite. With their discerning criteria for judging proportion, glaze structure, tonal range and tactility, Song connoisseurs in many ways anticipated modern design movements and Song ceramics still provide models of style and craftsmanship for potters today. Although this taste was originally borne by the class of China’s educated scholar-officials, its sophistication – at least as far as ceramics were concerned – was fully embraced by the court.

With the loss of the northern part of their empire to the Jurchen and the move of the capital to Hangzhou, the Song no longer had access to either the Ru or the Ding kilns – a very visible reminder of lost territory. Since no southern manufactory was in a position to fill this lacuna, Emperor Gaozong, the first to rule out of Hangzhou, had new official (guan) kilns set up right inside the capital to make wares modelled on Ru ware for imperial use. It is exactly the glaze of the present washer, with its intense colour and ‘broken ice’ crackle, that some of the most admired guan wares copied (compare, for example, some of the guan vessels in the National Palace Museum: Taipei 2016, pls II-2, II-7, II-11 and 12, II-42 and 43).

When in 1151 a high civil official, Zhang Jun, who had moved south together with the Song court, made a gift of sixteen pieces of Ru ware to the Gaozong Emperor, it was a spectacular gesture that unmistakeably documented his power and wealth, as well as his allegiance to the Song court, and was duly recorded for posterity (in the Wulin jiushi, a book of memories of Hangzhou written by Zhou Mi, 1232-1308). How any official – however powerful – could have amassed such a large number of pieces that were notoriously difficult to come by, remains an open question, as only pieces rejected by the court were supposedly allowed to be sold, and it is unlikely that Zhang Jun would have offered the Emperor rejects of that kind.

The high regard for Ru ware did not wane in the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), when the term ‘sesame seed’ markings to describe the ware’s characteristic minute spur marks, appears to have been coined. It appears for the first time in print in 1591 in Gao Lian’s Zun sheng ba jian [Eight discourses on the nurturing of life]. Unlike other Song wares, Ru was, however, virtually not copied then, presumably because too few pieces were in circulation to provide models. One notable exception is a monochrome blue-glazed porcelain version of an oval ‘narcissus basin’ of Xuande mark and period (1426-1435), created by the Jingdezhen imperial kilns perhaps after a drawing (Mingdai Xuande guanyao jinghua tezhan tulu/Catalogue of the Special Exhibition of Selected Hsüan-te Imperial Porcelains of the Ming Dynasty, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1998, pl. 36).

It was by sending originals from the palace in Beijing to the porcelain kilns in south China as models, among them a Ru ‘narcissus basin’, that the Yongzheng Emperor (r. 1723-1735) managed to revive Ru shapes and glazes. A list of different porcelains ordered to be made for the Emperor in 1732 lists “Uncrackled Ru glaze with copper-coloured paste, copied from the colour of the glaze of two pieces of the Song dynasty’, and ‘Ru glaze with fish-roe crackle of copper-coloured paste, copied from the colours of the glaze of a piece of the Song dynasty sent from the imperial palace” (Stephen W. Bushell, Oriental Ceramic Art: Illustrated by Examples from the Collection of W.T. Walters, New York, 1896; reprint London, 1981, pp. 194f.). According to an inventory of 1729, thirty-one Ru brush washers of various shapes and sizes, with and without inscriptions, were kept in special, probably Japanese, lacquer boxes (Taipei, 2006, p. 25), some of them identifiable through their inscriptions among pieces extant in Taipei today. Several Ru pieces are also included in the two handscrolls titled Guwan tu (‘Pictures of antiquities’), painted in the Yongzheng reign in 1728 and 1729, respectively, which record art objects in the imperial collection, among them the ‘narcissus basin’ with metal rim (no. 7 in the list below, see Regina Krahl, ‘Art in the Yongzheng Period: Legacy of an Eccentric Art Lover’, Orientations, November/December 2005, p. 65 top right), and the bowl from the Sir Percival David Collection (no. 17, see China. The Three Emperors 1662 – 1795, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2005, cat. no. 168 bottom left).

The Qianlong Emperor (r. 1736-1795) ‘appropriated’ Ru ware by having twenty-two of the eighty-seven extant pieces engraved with his poems, thus contributing further to the fame of the ware, even though he did not always correctly identify Ru ware, and at least in one instance had a poem inscribed also on a Yongzheng copy (ibid., cat. no. 197).

In 1923, after the fall of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) and before the opening of the Forbidden City as a public museum, a fire at one of the palace halls, supposedly deliberately planted by eunuchs in an attempt to hide that objects were missing, destroyed a storage area, where ancient works of art had been kept. From the burnt remains that were cleared by an outside company only some Ru wares, and some polychrome (doucai) porcelains of Chenghua mark and period (1465-1487) were apparently deemed worth keeping in spite of damage done to their glazes. Fifteen fire-damaged pieces are among the eighty-seven Ru pieces preserved world-wide.

In the West, the identity of Ru ware came to be known through the International Exhibition of Chinese Art at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1935-1936, to which the Chinese Government lent ten examples identified as Ru, although by that time several Western collectors already owned some, without being sure about their identity. Ru pieces from the collections of Sir Percival David and George Eumorfopoulos were also included in the exhibition. The opportunity to inspect first-hand and to handle so many Ru pieces led David to study the historical sources and to publish his ground-breaking ‘Commentary on Ju Ware’ in the Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society right after the exhibition (David 1936-1937).

In China, many attempts had been made to locate the kiln site, but it was only in 1986 that a site considered to represent the official Ru manufactories was identified at Qingliangsi, Baofeng, Henan province, with the discovery of proper kiln remains following somewhat later. Besides a large number of sherds of typical Ru guanyao vessels that were recovered, the excavations have also shown that the potters were more ambitious than the heirloom pieces let one to believe. Whereas virtually all extant pieces of Ru official ware are small and plain, the kilns experimented with many complicated sculptural forms, openwork designs and detailed engraved decoration, of which no complete examples are preserved, or may ever have left the kilns. Other more recently excavated kiln sites are now sometimes mentioned in this context as possible official kilns of the Northern Song period, in particular the Zhanggongxiang kilns also in Ruzhou, Henan province (Beijing 2009), but almost no extant heirloom pieces can be matched to those manufactories.


Regina Krahl

For no other Song dynasty (960-1279) ceramic ware a complete list of extant examples could be compiled, like this is possible for Ru official wares. This is due not only to the fact that Ru represents by far the rarest category of Chinese ceramics; there are also two other important contributing factors: First, Ru wares always represented revered treasures, treated with diligent care and conspicuously handed down. Although the list of extant pieces got longer over the years, since pieces are still occasionally coming to light that have languished undiscovered in museum storerooms – not surprising especially where no specialist curator is at hand, since Ru ware is at first glance unobtrusive – it is becoming more and more unlikely that examples hidden, unrecognized, in private collections will be found. Second, Ru wares have never been so closely copied that later copies, or contemporary pieces from lesser kilns, could today easily be mixed up with the real wares, as would be the case, for example, when trying to establish a list of extant Song guan wares from Hangzhou.

The only other Chinese ceramic ware, where the establishment of a catalogue raisonné has ever been attempted, by Julian Thompson, are the imperial porcelains of Chenghua mark and period (1465-1487); but whereas the number of extant Ru pieces amounts to less than one hundred, Chenghua wares probably run to at least six times that number.

The exact figure of preserved Ru guan ware pieces has intrigued scholars for decades and recorded numbers have been rising. When in 1958 G. St. G. M. Gompertz compiled a list of extant Ru wares, he assembled thirty-one pieces outside of China, in addition to ten sent by the Chinese Government to the Royal Academy of Art exhibition in London 1935-1936 (Gompertz, 1958, p. 34). No other pieces from any Chinese collection were known at that time. Since then, many more specimens have been published, particularly pieces held in China, but also a few preserved in collections abroad, which had not been made public before. Although Gompertz’s list of Ru wares included a few pieces which today would no longer qualify as such, his number was not far off the present mark of securely verified pieces abroad, which has increased only slightly to thirty-six recorded examples. In 1987, Wang Qingzheng published a list of sixty-five heirloom pieces of Ru official ware worldwide, enlarging it to sixty-nine in a revised edition in 1991, but including some pieces about which he himself expressed doubts (Wang et al., 1987, pp. 38-40; 1991, pp. 115-117).

In the catalogue of an exhibition of Ru ware in the Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka, in 2009, Degawa Tetsuro compiled a list of seventy reliable pieces (Osaka, 2009, pp. 279-87). In our last sale catalogue that presented a piece of Ru ware in Hong Kong in 2012, we were able to add nine further items to that list, arriving at a total of seventy-nine Ru pieces that can be considered ‘heirloom’, i.e. pieces that were never buried and excavated, but preserved and handed down above ground (Sotheby’s, 2012, pp. 40-43).

These publications appear to have formed the basis for a yet more ambitious list included in a recent publication of the Palace Museum, Beijing (Beijing, 2015, pp. 260-305), where the museum made public for the first time several so far unpublished items from its collection, many of which had been damaged in the well-known palace fire in 1923 and thus had previously probably not be deemed worthy of publishing. This listing assembles a total of ninety pieces worldwide. Four pieces ought, however, be deducted from the list: a parrot-shaped fragment purchased by the Palace Museum, Beijing, in 2001 (Beijing, 2015, fig. 41); a brush washer donated to the Shanghai Museum, that was collected from and led to the discovery of the Ru kiln site (Beijing, 2015, fig. 42); a shallow bowl in the Guangdong Province Museum, which was reconstituted from a fragment (Beijing, 2015, fig. 54); and a bowl stand published and sold as Korean rather than as a piece of Ru ware (Guardian Hong Kong, 5.4. 2013, lot 414; Beijing, 2015, fig. 90).

Although it is not always easy to establish beyond any doubt whether a piece has been excavated or was handed down, this author would also be inclined to suspend for the time being the inclusion in this list of four further pieces, whose heirloom status has not yet been verified: three brush washers included by the Palace Museum (Beijing, 2015, figs 34, 56, and 59) listed below as (88), (89) and (90); and one cup or small bowl that has recently come to light in Japan, listed below as (91). One further brush washer, which appeared in a publication in 1922 is presently unaccounted for, see (92) below.

On the other hand, four vessels, whose status has been fully confirmed, seem to be missing from the Beijing list and can here be added: a third tripod incense burner in the Cincinnati Art Museum, here listed as 14; two brush washers in museums in The Netherlands and in Denmark, included below as 59 and 60, and a dish in the Shanghai Museum, 68 – to bring the total number to eighty-seven.

In 1986, when the kilns making Ru official ware for the Northern Song (960-1127) court were discovered and excavated in Qingliangsi, Baofeng county, Henan province, a large number of additional pieces, mostly damaged or fragmentary, was recovered from the kiln site. Since these pieces had obviously not been intended for delivery to the court, but were retained in the workshops due to perceived imperfection, or being unfinished (for example, in unglazed, biscuit-fired state), these are not included in our consideration here.

Starting in 1940, no more than six Ru vessels have ever appeared at auction:

The bottle from the Eumorfopoulos collection, now in the Sir Percival David Collection in the British Museum (no. 3), Sotheby’s London, 28th May 1940, lot 135.

The ‘narcissus basin’ with metal rim from the Ataka Collection, now in the Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka, (no. 10), Sotheby’s London, 17th March 1959, lot 26, and 24th February 1970, lot 1.

The brush washer from the K. S. Lo Collection, now in the Hong Kong Museum of Art (no. 51), Sotheby’s London, 15th April 1980, lot 140.

The dish from the Stephen Junkunc III Collection, now in the collection of Au Bakling (no. 80), Christie’s New York, 3rd December 1992, lot 276.

The reduced dish from the Stephen Junkunc III Collection, now in a private collection (no. 69), Christie’s New York, 29th March 2006, lot 401.

The lobed brush washer from the Alfred Clark Collection, now in a private collection (no. 29), Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 4th April 2012, lot 101 (fig. 1).

What is most remarkable when looking through this list of eighty-seven heirloom pieces of Ru official ware, is that virtually all examples are now preserved in museum collections and no more than three pieces are left in private hands (figs 1).


S nos refer to fig. nos in the Appendix of the Palace Museum’s Selection of Ru Ware, see Beijing, 2015, pp. 260-305
[ ] denotes heirloom Ru official wares preserved in private collections

Bottles, angular, no foot (2)
1  National Palace Museum, Taipei, ex Qing court collection: 22.4 cm, metal rim, fenghua and Qianlong inscriptions (1)
2  National Palace Museum, Taipei, ex Qing court collection: 20.5 cm, reduced, Qianlong inscription on ground part of base (S 2)

Bottle, globular (1)
3  Sir Percival David Collection, London, ex Eumorfopoulos: 24.8 cm, metal rim (S 60)

Bottle, ovoid (1)
4  National Palace Museum, Taipei, ex Qing court collection: reduced, 17.9 cm, metal rim and foot, Qianlong inscription around ground centre of base (S 3)

Bottle, pear-shaped (1)
5  British Museum, London, ex Alfred Clark: 20.1 cm (S 72)

‘Narcissus basins’ (6)
6  National Palace Museum, Taipei, ex Qing court collection: 23 cm, Qianlong inscription (S4)
7  National Palace Museum, Taipei, ex Qing court collection: 23 cm, metal rim, Qianlong inscription (S 5)
8  National Palace Museum, Taipei, ex Qing court collection: 23.1 cm (S 7)
9  National Palace Museum, Taipei, ex Qing court collection: 26.4 cm, feet cut down, Qianlong inscription (S 6)
10  Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka, ex Ataka: 22 cm, metal rim (S 83)
11  Jilin Province Museum: 23.2 cm, cut down, metal rim (S 53)

Tripod incense burners (3)
12  Sir Percival David Collection, London: 24.8 cm (S 61)
13  Palace Museum, Beijing, ex Qing court collection: 18 cm (S 22)
14  Cincinnati Art Museum: 17.8 cm
(Ellen B. Avril, Chinese Art in the Cincinnati  Art Museum, Cincinnati, 1997, pl. 63)

Warming bowl (1)
15  National Palace Museum, Taipei, ex Qing court collection: 16.2 cm (S 8)

Bowls (2)
16  Palace Museum, Beijing, ex Qing court collection: 17.1 cm Qianlong inscription (S 24)
17  Sir Percival David Collection, London: 17 cm, metal rim, Qianlong inscription (S 63)

Bowl stands, lobed (2)
18  British Museum, London, ex Sir Harry Garner: 16.5 cm (S 73)
19  Sir Percival David Collection, London: 17 cm (S 62)

Bowl stand, round (1)
20  Victoria & Albert Museum, London, ex Sir Harry Garner: 16.5 cm, metal rim, inscribed with palace name (S 77)

Bowl stand, flat (1)
21  Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, ex John Gardner Coolidge: 18.7 cm (S 82)

Tripod stand (1)
22  Palace Museum, Beijing, ex Qing court collection: 18.3 cm, Qianlong inscription (S 23)

Basins (2)
23  National Palace Museum, Taipei, ex Qing court collection: 15.9 cm, lost metal rim (S 16)
24  National Museum of China, Beijing, on loan from Palace Museum: 13.7 cm (S 35)

Brush washers, oval, with twin fish (3)
25  National Palace Museum, Taipei, ex Qing court collection: 14.2 cm (S 9)
26  Sir Percival David Collection, London: 14.2 cm (S 64)
27  Sir Percival David Collection, London: 14.5 cm (S 65)

Brush washers, lobed (2)
28  British Museum, London, ex Alfred Clark: 13.6 cm (S 74)
[29]  Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 4. 4. 2012, ex Alfred Clark: 13.5 cm (S 89, fig. 1)

Brush washers, round (33)
30  Palace Museum, Beijing, ex Qing court collection: 13 cm, inscribed yi, (S 25 )
31  Palace Museum, Beijing, ex Qing court collection: 12.9 cm, metal rim, inscribed yi, (S 26)
32  Palace Museum, Beijing: 13.6 cm (inscribed yi, fire damaged (S 27)
33  Palace Museum, Beijing: 13.4 cm, inscribed yi, fire damaged (S 28)
34  Palace Museum, Beijing: 13.5 cm, inscribed yi, fire damaged (S 29)
35  Palace Museum, Beijing: 13.9 cm, inscribed yi, fire damaged (S 30)
36  Palace Museum, Beijing: 12.8 cm, inscribed bing, fire damaged (S 31)
37  Palace Museum, Beijing: 12.8 cm, inscribed bing, Qianlong inscription, fire damaged (S32)
38  Palace Museum, Beijing: 12.8 cm, inscribed bing, Qianlong inscription, fire damaged (S33)
39  National Palace Museum, Taipei, ex Qing court collection: 14.9 cm, inscribed jia, (S 10)
40  National Palace Museum, Taipei, ex Qing court collection: 14.8 cm, inscribed jia, Qianlong inscription, (S 11)
41  National Palace Museum, Taipei, ex Qing court collection: 13 cm, metal rim, inscribed bing, Qianlong inscription (S 12)
42  National Palace Museum, Taipei, ex Qing court collection: 13.1 cm, Qianlong inscription (S)
43  National Palace Museum, Taipei, ex Qing court collection: 12.9 cm, Qianlong inscription (S 14)
44  National Palace Museum, Taipei, ex Qing court collection: 13.4 cm, metal rim (S 15)
45  National Museum of China, Beijing: 16.7 cm, metal rim, probably fire damaged (S 51)
46  Shanghai Museum: 13.5 cm, fire damaged (S 43)
47  Shanghai Museum: 12.6 cm (S 44)
48  Shanghai Museum: 12.6 cm (S 45)
49  Shanghai Museum: 12.3 cm (S 46)
[50]  The present lot, ex Chang Foundation, Taipei: 13 cm (S 58)
51  Hong Kong Museum of Art, ex K.S. Lo: 13.5 cm, Qianlong inscription ground off (S 55)
52  Sir Percival David Collection, London: 13.7 cm, inscribed yi, fire damaged (S 66)
53  Sir Percival David Collection, London: 13 cm (S 67)
54  Sir Percival David Collection, London: 12.9 cm (S 68)
55  Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Sir Alan Barlow: 12.8 cm (S 78)
56  Röhsska Museum, Gothenburg, Sweden: 13 cm (S 85)
57  Röhsska Museum, Gothenburg, Sweden: 12.9 cm (S 86)
58  Rietberg Museum, Zurich, Meiyintang Collection: 12.8 cm, metal rim, inscribed bing (S87)
59  Princessehof Keramiek Museum, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, ex Nanne Ottema: 13 cm (http://friesmuseum.delving.org/thumbnail/friesmuseum/princessehof/GMP%201981-111%20[01]/500)
60  Kunstindustrimuseet, Copenhagen, Denmark, ex A. Oigaard: 13 cm
(Osvald Sirén, Kinas Konst under Tre Årtusenden, Stockholm, 1943, vol. II, fig. 324)
61  Philadelphia Museum of Art, ex Major General William Crozier: 13 cm (S 80)
62  Cleveland Museum of Art: 12.9 cm (S 81)

Dishes, deep, rounded (7)
63  Palace Museum, Beijing, ex Qing court collection: 18.4 cm (S 38)
64  National Palace Museum, Taipei, ex Qing court collection: 15.8 cm, inscribed jia, Qianlong inscription (S 17)
65  National Palace Museum, Taipei, ex Qing court collection: 21.4 cm, metal foot, Qianlong inscription (S 18)
66  National Palace Museum, Taipei, ex Qing court collection: 18.4 cm, Qianlong inscription (S 19)
67  British Museum, London, ex George Eumorfopoulos: 19.6 cm, Qianlong inscription, fire damaged (S 75)
68  Shanghai Museum: 12.3 cm (Wang et al. 1987, pl. 32; 1991, pl. 32 and cover)
[69]  Christie’s New York, 29. 3. 2006, ex Stephen Junkunc III: 17.5 cm, reduced, fire damaged (S 8)

Dishes, deep, flared (3)
70  Palace Museum, Beijing, ex Qing court collection: 19.3 cm, inscribed with palace name (S 36)
71  Palace Museum, Beijing, ex Qing court collection: 19.6 cm, inscribed cai (S 37)
72  Sir Percival David Collection, London: 19.5 cm, Qianlong inscription, fire damaged (S 70)

Dishes, shallow, flared (12)
73  Palace Museum, Beijing, ex Qing court collection: 17.1 cm (S 39)
74  Palace Museum, Beijing, ex Qing court collection: 16.9 cm (S 40)
75  Shanghai Museum: 17.1 cm (S 47)
76  Shanghai Museum: 17 cm (S 48)
77  Shanghai Museum: 17 cm (S 49)
78  Shanghai Museum: 17 cm (S 50)
79  Tianjin Museum: 17.2 cm (S 52)
[80]  Christie’s Hong Kong, 3. 12. 1982, Au Bakling, ex Stephen Junkunc III: 17.5 cm (S 57)
81  Sir Percival David Collection, London: 17 cm (S 71)
82  British Museum, London, ex George Eumorfopoulos: 18.4 cm, Qianlong inscription, fire damaged (S 76)
83  St. Louis Art Museum, ex Samuel C. Davis: 17.2 cm (S 79)
84  Tokyo National Museum, ex Kawabata Yasunari: 17.1 cm (S 84)

Dishes, rounded, no foot (3)
85  National Palace Museum, Taipei, ex Qing court collection: 12.8 cm, metal rim, inscribed fenghua (S 20)
86  National Palace Museum, Taipei, ex Qing court collection: 10.9 cm, inscribed bing and cai (S 21)
87  Sir Percival David Collection, London: 12.1 cm, fire damaged (S 69)          

Potential Additions to the List

Heirloom status unverified (4)
(88) Brush washer, Palace Museum, Beijing, donated 1965: 13 cm (S 34)
(89) Brush washer, Muwentang Collection: 13.9 cm (S 56)
(90) Brush washer, Guanfu Museum: size unknown (S 59)
(91) Cup, Japanese Private Collection: 10.2 cm, repaired
(Sō ji no bi/The Beauty of Song Ceramics, The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka, 2016, cat. no. 1)

Present whereabouts unknown (1)
(92) Brush washer, published as Korean, but probably Ru: 13 cm
(Oscar Rücker-Embden, Chinesische Frühkeramik, Leipzig, 1922, pl. 43 a)


Selected Bibliography on Ru Official Ware

David 1936-1937
Sir Percival David, ‘A Commentary on Ju Ware’, Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society, vol. 14, 1936-1937, pp. 18-63

Chen 1951
Chen Wanli, ‘Ruyao zhi wo jian [My views on Ru ware]’, Wenwu cankao ciliao, 1951, no. 2

London 1952
Ju and Kuan Wares. Imperial Wares of the Sung Dynasty, Related Wares and Derivatives of Later Date, The Oriental Ceramic Society, London, 1952

Gompertz 1958
G.St.G.M. Gompertz, Chinese Celadon Wares, London, 1958

Wang et al. 1987/1991
Wang Qingzheng, Fan Dongqing & Zhou Lili, Ruyao de faxian/The Discovery of Ru Kiln, Shanghai, 1987; rev. ed. Hong Kong, 1991

Zhao et al. 1991
Zhao Qingyun et al., Ruyao de xin faxian/New Discoveries in Ru Kiln, Beijing, 1991.

Ye & Ye 2001
Ye Zhemin & Ye Peilan, eds, Ruyao juzhen/Collection of Porcelain Treasures of the Ru Kiln, Beijing, 2001.

Zhao 2003
Zhao Qingyun, ed., Songdai Ruyao [Ru ware of the Song dynasty], Zhengzhou, 2003.

Taipei 2006
Lin Baiting, ed., Da guan. Bei Song Ruyao tezhan/Grand View: Special Exhibition of Ju Ware from the Northern Sung Dynasty, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 2006

Baofeng 2008
Baofeng Qingliangsi Ruyao/Ru Yao at Qingliangsi in Baofeng, Zhengzhou, 2008

Beijing 2009
Ruyao yu Zhanggongxiangyao chutu ciqi/Ceramic Art Unearthed from the Ru Kiln Site and Zhanggongxiang Kiln Site, Beijing, 2009

Osaka 2009
Hokusō Joyō seiji: Kōko hakkutsu seika ten/Northern Song Ru Ware. Recent Archaeological Findings, Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka, 2009

Sotheby’s 2012
Regina Krahl, Ru. From a Japanese Collection, Sotheby’s, Hong Kong, 2012

Beijing 2015
Ru ci ya ji. Gugong Bowuyuan zhencang ji chutu Ruyao ciqi huicui/Selection of Ru Ware. The Palace Museum’s Collection and Archaeological Excavation, Palace Museum, Beijing, 2015

Taipei 2016
Yu Peichin, Gui si chenxing. Qing gong chuanshi 12 zhi 14 shiji qingci tezhan/Precious as the Morning Star. 12th-14th Century Celadons in the Qing Court Collection, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 2016