Lot 134
  • 134


80,000 - 120,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • ceramic
  • 9.5 cm, 3 3/4  in. 
the rounded sides rising from a concave foot, painted to the sides in inky washes of cobalt blue with peonies borne on the same continuous scroll surrounded by fleshy leaves and attendant buds, with a band of classic scroll and lappets at the foot and a band of lotus scrolls at the rim, the underglaze blue six-character mark inscribed horizontally below the rim

Catalogue Note

Perfectly formed in its ergonomical shape and delicately painted with vibrant cobalt blue, this bowl is a charming example of the outstanding imperial wares characteristic of Xuande porcelain. Bowls of this form are described in Archibald Brankston, early Ming Wares of Chingtechen, Beijing, 1938, p. 25, as jing shui wan (pure water bowl) which were filled with water and used during prayers for purification. The small size and rounded shape allowed it to be held comfortably in one's palms.

A small number of closely related bowls can be found in important museums and private collections; see one from the Qing Court collection and still in Beijing, published in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Blue and White Porcelain with Underglazed Red (I), Hong Kong, 2008, pl. 130, together with a Xuande mark and period stem bowl that would have been used for a similar purpose, pl. 131; one in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, included in the Museum's exhibition Ming Xuande ciqi fezhan mulu [Special exhibition of Hsuan-te wares], 1980, cat. no. 20; another published in Chinese Ceramics in the Idemitsu Collection Tokyo, 1987, pl. 636; and a fourth from the collection of Sir Percival and Lady David, included in the exhibition of Chinese Art, Palazzo Ducale, Venice, 1954, cat. no. 639. A small number of bowls have been offered at auction; one, from the collection of E.T. Chow, was sold twice in our Hong Kong rooms, 19th May 1981, lot 402, and 3rd May 1994, lot 40; another, included in the Ceramic Society of Japan's Inaugural Exhibition, Hiroshima, 1954, lot 14, was sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 30th May 2012, lot 4056; and a third was sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 2nd May 2005, lot 508.

Bowls of this type, but lacking the reign mark, include one, from the collection of Sir John Addis and now in the British Museum, London, published in Jessica Harrison-Hall, Ming Ceramics in the British Museum, London, 2001, pl. 4.22; another from the Fuller collection was sold at Christie's London, 28th/29th June 1965, lot 147; and a third illustrated in John Ayers, Chinese Ceramics. The Koger Collection, London, 1985, pl. 50.

A similar bowl with Xuande mark and period, displayed on its wooden stand, is included in an extant handscroll of the Yongzheng period, Guwantu (Pictures of Antiques), in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, coll. no. E59-1911, dated in accordance with 1729, which depicts works of art from the Imperial collection.