A rare wucai 'dragon and prunus' rectangular box and cover Mark and period of Wanli | 明萬曆 五彩雲龍戲珠紋長方蓋盒 《大明萬曆年製》款
Property from an Important Collection
A rare wucai 'dragon and prunus' rectangular box and cover
Mark and period of Wanli
明萬曆 五彩雲龍戲珠紋長方蓋盒 《大明萬曆年製》款
The box and cover are in good overall condition. There is minor retouching to the enamels, especially the iron red on the cover. There are some shallow flakes, including one measuring approx. 1.5 cm to the inner rim of the cover and another approx. 1.2 cm to the inner rim of the box. There are typical minor firing imperfections, such as fritting with associated flakes to the edges and firing cracks to the base which have been stabilised.
"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."
Mayuyama & Co. Ltd, Tokyo, acquired prior to 1976.
An important Asian collection, acquired in Tokyo, circa 2000.
Christie's Hong Kong, 29th May 2019, lot 2927.
Mayuyama: Seventy Years, Mayuyama & Co. Ltd, Tokyo, 1976, vol. 1, pl. 922.
Painted in brilliant enamels with confronting five-clawed dragons on the exterior, decorated on the interior of the cover with a sprig of prunus blossoming under moonlight, the present box is extremely rare and there are only a handful of known examples.
A similar box, but with a bird in flight instead of a crescent moon above the prunus, was first sold in our London rooms, 29th March 1977, lot 260, again at Christie's Tokyo, 15th February 1981, lot 327, and a third time at Christie's London, 16th June 1986, lot 75. Another example is illustrated in Sekai toji zenshu / Ceramic Art of the World, vol. 11, Tokyo, 1955, fig. 170, again in Genmei meihin ten [Exhibition of Yuan and Ming ceramics], The Japan Ceramic Society, Tokyo, 1956, cat. no. 176, and exhibited in Chūgoku Meishin Bijutsuten Mokuroku / Chinese Arts of the Ming and Ch’ing Periods, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, 1963, cat. no. 363.
There is a closely related box painted with figures on the exterior and only a single sprig of prunus on the interior in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures in the Palace Museum. Porcelains in Polychrome and Contrasting Colours, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 39.
Compare also a blue-and-white box of the same design, similarly painted with prunus below a crescent moon on the interior, from the collections of the Reverend J.F. Bloxam, Mr and Mrs Alfred Clark, Mr and Mrs Frederick M. Mayer, and T.Y. Chao, exhibited in the International Exhibition of Chinese Art, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1935, cat. no. 1985, and sold in these rooms, 19th May 1987, lot 242.