An extremely rare imperial blue and brown-glazed 'dragon' dish Ming dynasty, Hongwu period | 明洪武 外醬釉內藍釉雲龍紋盤
Property from a Distinguished Private Collection
An extremely rare imperial blue and brown-glazed 'dragon' dish
Ming dynasty, Hongwu period
the interior glazed in brilliant cobalt blue and deftly decorated in anhua technique with two scaly five-clawed dragons striding amidst ruyi-shaped clouds, encircling a central ruyi-cloud medallion, the exterior subtly covered in brown glaze with the base and footring left unglazed
d. 12.9 cm
The dish is in good overall condition. There are expected minor firing imperfections to the base, including kiln frits to the outer footring, one with an associated approx. 0.5 by 0.25 cm flake.
整體品相良好。器底見窰燒瑕疵，包括外圈足窰灰，其一導致一處約0.5 x 0.25公分剝落。
"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.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."
This dish, impressed with five-clawed dragons and glazed in blue and brown, is extremely rare. It belongs to a minuscule group of bi-chrome glazed porcelains with anhua ('hidden decoration') designs, among the earliest with coloured glazes. Pieces of the group are variously attributed to the late Yuan dynasty or the Hongwu reign of the Ming dynasty, but a fragment of a blue-and-brown glazed vessel with anhua dragon design of this type was recovered from the site of the Ming imperial palace at Nanjing (See Zhu Ming yicui. Nanjing Ming gugong chutu taoci / A Legacy of the Ming. Ceramic Finds from the Site of the Ming Palace in Nanjing, Art Museum, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1996, no. 26). It was discovered together with Hongwu blue-and-white and underglaze-red decorated porcelain fragments by the Jade Belt River (Yudaihe) that surrounded the inner palace buildings and, given this location, can be considered to represent Hongwu imperial porcelain made for use by the imperial family.
Jessica Harrison-Hall suggests about the colouration 'Conceivably it represents the blue of heaven and the red-brown of earth' (Jessica Harrison-Hall, Catalogue of Late Yuan and Ming Ceramics in the British Museum, London, 2001, p. 69). Both blue and brown glazes were already in use in the Yuan dynasty, but are very rare. To apply two differently coloured glazes on the inside and the outside of a vessel, as seen on the present dish, would seem a highly complex manner of treating a vessel. It was hardly ever attempted either before or after. There are only a few exceptions, such as white-and-black Ding ware bowls of the Song dynasty, or Jiajing porcelains of the Ming dynasty with bicoloured glazes.
Only five other pieces of the present design and glazed in this colour scheme appear to be preserved: one dish, one bowl and three stem cups. One slightly larger blue-and-brown dish is in the British Museum, London (accession no. 1936,1012.240 [https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/A_1936-1012-240]) from the Eumorfopoulos collection, illustrated ibid., no. 1:21. One bowl was recently sold in these rooms, 9th October 2020, lot 46. One blue-and-brown stem cup from the Sedgwick collection is also in the British Museum (accession no. 1968,0423.1 [https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/A_1968-0423-1]), illustrated ibid., no. 1:20; another is in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City (accession no. 35-533 [https://art.nelson-atkins.org/objects/14672/stem-cup?ctx=e4f7671a-baef-4323-8ca9-971d1c1fdc17&idx=8]), illustrated in Ceramics: Highlights from the Collection of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, 2016, p. 21; and a third from the Norton collection was sold in our London rooms, 5th November 1963, lot 172.
霍吉淑論此色彩意謂「藍天紅土」，見其著作《Catalogue of Late Yuan and Ming Ceramics in the British Museum》，倫敦，2001年，頁69。元代已有醬釉、藍釉，但極為珍罕。雲龍紋盌內外施異色釉藥，於當時應屬繁縟技法，前例罕有，後代亦鮮。可相比擬者，惟宋代黑白釉定瓷，與嘉靖窰雙色瓷。
與本品紋飾、釉色相類者，僅存五例，一盤、一盌及三件高足盃。大英博物館藏外醬釉內藍釉盤（編號1936,1012.240），乃尤莫弗普勒斯舊蓄，出處同上，編號1:21。2020年10月9日香港蘇富比拍出一盌，編號46。三件高足盃分別為大英博物館 Sedgwick 舊藏（編號1968,0423.1），出處同上，編號1:20；堪薩斯納爾遜阿特金斯藝術博物館藏品（編號35-533），收入《Ceramics: Highlights from the Collection of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art》，堪薩斯城，2016年，頁21；以及 Norton 舊藏器，1963年11月5日售於倫敦蘇富比，編號172。