Lot 505
  • 505


80,000 - 120,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Porcelain
  • Diameter 5 in., 12.7 cm
finely potted of classic domed 'taibai zun' form, the slightly tapered sides rising to a rounded shoulder and short waisted neck below a lipped mouth rim, the exterior evenly applied overall save for the rim and base with a rich crimson-red glaze characteristically mottled with shades of lighter pink and dots of emerald green imitating the skin of a ripening peach, the body faintly incised with three stylized archaistic dragon roundels, the recessed base with a six-character mark in underglaze blue in three columns


John Sparks Ltd., London.
Collection of Sidney T. Cook (1910-1964), and thence by descent. 

Catalogue Note

The present piece is a particularly successful example of peachbloom glaze as evidenced by the vibrant copper-red that evenly covers the surface. Notoriously difficult to achieve due to the temperamental nature of the copper pigment, the attractive blushing glaze is only found on the eight prescribed vessels made for the scholar's table, one of the most iconic groups of porcelain created under the Kangxi Emperor.

Copper-red glazes had been largely abandoned at Jingdezhen since the early Ming dynasty and were revived and drastically improved only during the Kangxi reign. Recent research conducted by Peter Lam and other leading scholars indicate that the famous 'peachbloom' group was produced during the early years of the Kangxi period under the supervision of the skilled Zang Yingxuan, who was sent to Jingdezhen in 1681 to oversee the rebuilding of the kilns and serve as imperial supervisor. To manage the fugitive copper-lime pigment, it is believed to have been sprayed via a long bamboo tube onto a layer of transparent glaze and then fixed with another layer, so as to be sandwiched between two layers of clear glaze. 

A waterpot of this type in the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated in Kangxi. Yongzheng. Qianlong. Qing Porcelain from the Palace Museum Collection, Hong Kong, 1989, pl. 125; one in the Shanghai Museum, Shanghai, is published in Wang Qingzheng, ed., Kangxi Porcelain Wares from the Shanghai Museum Collection, Hong Kong, 1998, pl. 206; another from the Sir Percival David Collection, now in the British Museum, London, is published in Margaret Medley, Ming and Qing Monochrome Wares in the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, London, 1989, pl. 580; and a further example of slightly smaller size, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, is illustrated in Suzanne G. Valenstein, A Handbook of Chinese Ceramics, New York, 1989, pl. 234.

These waterpots are known as taibai zun after the Tang dynasty poet Li Taibai, who is often depicted leaning against a large wine jar of similar form; for example see a porcelain sculpture, which shows the poet seated with closed eyes and a cup in hand, published in Kangxi. Yongzheng. Qianlong. Qing Porcelain from the Palace Museum Collectionop. cit., pl. 89. They are also referred to as jizhao zun, because their shape resembles that of a chicken coop.