Lot 3309
  • 3309


1,000,000 - 1,500,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • 12.5 cm, 4 7/8  in.
well potted with rounded sides supported on a gently tapering foot, the exterior intricately painted with bright enamels within an underglaze-blue outline, depicting six stylised hibiscus blooms of yellow, iron red and purple, borne on an undulating leafy meander, all between a foliate scroll encircling the rim and a ruyi band around the foot, the interior similarly decorated with a central medallion enclosing a single hibiscus spray, inscribed to the base with a six-character mark within a double circle


Collection of The Hon. Mountstuart William Elphinstone (1871-1957), no. 518.
Sotheby's Hong Kong, 26th October 1993, lot 152.

Catalogue Note

This elegant bowl is particularly notable for its exquisitely painted floral scroll in soft pastel enamels. Cobalt pencilled lines are painted with great precision and the overglaze enamels are carefully shaded in graduating tones. The doucai palette, which was originally developed in the Chenghua reign, gained popularity in the Yongzheng period as it was ideally suited to the Emperor’s taste for delicate and unassuming porcelains. Although this bowl does not closely follow a specific prototype, it nevertheless takes inspiration from the Chenghua period both through the choice of palette and the delicate painting style.  Bowls of this type are unusual, although a closely related pair from the collection of Paul and Helen Bernat, was sold in these rooms, 15th November 1988, lot 15; another pair was sold in our London rooms, 6th July 1971, lot 241; and a further bowl, also from the collection of The Hon. Mountstuart William Elphinstone, was sold at Christie’s London, 15th June 1998, lot 162.

Compare also Yongzheng mark and period bowls similarly painted with a composite floral scroll, but with a classic-scroll band at the rim, such as another pair from the Paul and Helen Bernat collection, sold in these rooms, 15th November 1988, lot 14; one from the Goldschmidt collection, sold twice in these rooms, 8th November 1982, lot 207, and 13th November 1990, lot 32; and a third from the collection of George S. Palmer, sold in our New York rooms, 13th March 1975, lot 455. 

This bowl once belonged to the Hon. Mountstuart William Elphinstone (1871-1957), the brother of the 16th Lord Elphinstone and a passionate collector of Chinese porcelain. He was Private Secretary in the War Office between 1914 and 1919, and was Hon. Secretary between 1934 and 1944, during the Second World War. A client of Bluett’s and Sparks, a friend of Sir Percival David, and a member of the Oriental Ceramic Society since 1929, he was one of the most far-sighted collectors of his time and one-time owner of one of the ‘David Vases’. Several pieces in his collection were donated to the Sir Percival David Foundation in 1952, now in the British Museum, London, including 150 pieces of monochrome porcelain, while others were destroyed during the Second World War.