9
9
A RARE BLUE AND WHITE 'FLORAL' FRUIT BOWL
MARK AND PERIOD OF XUANDE
Estimation
2 500 0003 500 000
Lot. Vendu 4,975,000 HKD (Prix d’adjudication avec commission acheteur)
ACCÉDER AU LOT
9
A RARE BLUE AND WHITE 'FLORAL' FRUIT BOWL
MARK AND PERIOD OF XUANDE
Estimation
2 500 0003 500 000
Lot. Vendu 4,975,000 HKD (Prix d’adjudication avec commission acheteur)
ACCÉDER AU LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Selected Imperial Ceramics from the Tianminlou Collection

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Hong Kong

A RARE BLUE AND WHITE 'FLORAL' FRUIT BOWL
MARK AND PERIOD OF XUANDE
well potted with low rounded sides supported on a slightly tapered foot, the thick walls brightly decorated around the exterior in deep tones of cobalt with a composite flowering scroll issuing eight different blooms loosely referencing the four seasons, including lotus, chrysanthemum, rose, tree peony, pomegranate, hibiscus, camellia and herbaceous peony, each flower depicted with its corresponding leaves, above a border of petal lappets and a classic scroll encircling the lower body and foot respectively, the interior and base left white, the footring unglazed, inscribed with a six-character horizontal reign mark below the rim
27.5 cm, 10 7/8  in.
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Provenance

Acquired from Tai Sing, Hong Kong, 1985.

Exposition

Chinese Porcelain in the S.C. Ko Tianminlou Collection, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1987, cat. no. 26.
Blue and White Porcelain from the Tianminlou Collection, Chang Foundation, Taipei, 1992, cat. no. 42.
Tianminlou qinghua ci tezhan [Special exhibition of blue and white porcelain from the Tianminlou collection], Shanghai Museum, Shanghai, 1996.

Bibliographie

Blue and White Porcelain from the Collection of Tianminlou Foundation, Shanghai, 1996, no. 43.

Description

The elegance and harmony of this bowl captures the strength of Xuande reign porcelain, which is considered to be one of the most celebrated periods of porcelain production in China. The vivacity of the floral scroll with lush blooms and tendrils reveals a high degree of confidence in the use of cobalt. The exceptional quality and great variety of designs that were either created or perfected during the Xuande reign could hardly be better illustrated by the four ‘fruit’ bowls in this collection, including the present piece and lots 5, 7 and 11. The Imperial Porcelain Factory at Jingdezhen had been set up in the Hongwu reign and came under the control of the imperial administration in Beijing during the Yongle period. However, it was only during the Xuande reign that court officials and eunuchs began to be sent to Jingdezhen to supervise production. Under their close scrutiny, the Imperial Porcelain Factory was able to vastly increase its capacity while improving the standard of workmanship and control distribution. Refinement of body and glaze materials seems to have been stipulated, while forms and patterns were pre-designed.

The floral blooms on this bowl loosely reference the changing seasons; the lotus is followed by chrysanthemum, rose, tree peony, pomegranate, hibiscus and camellia. Flowers that came to symbolise the seasonal cycles in nature became a popular porcelain pattern during the Yuan dynasty. It is also in this period that the poet Yu Ji (1272-1348) first associated celebrated scholars with seasonal flowers: chrysanthemum, lotus, plum blossom and orchid came to represent Tao Yuanming (365-427), Zhou Maoshu (1017-1073), Lin Hejing (967-1028), and Huang Shangu (1045-1105) respectively. Auspicious flowers and birds were also a popular painting genre among professional court painters active in the early Ming dynasty. On porcelain, flower designs evolved from their Yuan dynasty origins, with a wider variety depicted in a naturalistic and identifiable manner.

The cobalt used for this piece was fired to a bright sapphire tone, and features the characteristic ‘heaping and piling’ effect. While imported sumali cobalt, which is believed to have originated in the area of Kashan in Iran, was favoured in the early 15th century, local cobalt high in manganese was sometimes mixed in. Imported cobalt, which arrived in China through the tribute system, was highly valued as exemplified by an entry from 1431 in the Ming shi lu [Veritable Records of the Ming dynasty] which recounts the arrival at court of a Samarkand envoy with 10,000 catties of foreign cobalt as gift to the Xuande Emperor. On this occasion the Emperor declared: ‘We should show our appreciation of their having travelled such a long distance by sending them away with lavish gifts’ (Imperial Porcelain of the Yongle and Xuande Periods Excavated from the Site of the Ming Imperial Factory, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1989, p. 70).

A closely related bowl in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, is illustrated in A Panorama of Ceramics in the Collection of the National Palace Museum. Hsüan-te Ware I, Taipei, 2000, pl. 52; one in the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated in Zhongguo taoci quanji [The complete works of Chinese ceramics], vol. 12: Ming (I), Shanghai, 2000, pl. 64; another from the collection of Mr and Mrs Eugene Bernat, included in the Exhibition of Blue-Decorated Porcelain of the Ming Dynasty, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 1949, cat. no. 62, was sold twice in these rooms, 31st October 1974, lot 61, and 21st May 1984, lot 59; a fourth bowl from the collection of Major Lindsay F. Hay, was sold in our London rooms, 25th June 1946, lot 29, in our New York rooms, 25th October 1975, lot 177, and again at Christie’s London, 7th June 1993, lot 47; and a further example from the Palmer collection illustrated in Sir Harry Garner, Oriental Blue and White, London, 1973, pl. 26a, was sold twice at Christie’s Hong Kong, 17th January 1989, lot 573, and 1st-3rd May 1994, lot 632.

Bowls of this form, all featuring a Xuande reign mark under the rim, are known with a variety of motifs, including dragons amongst clouds, lotus, peony, rose and lingzhi scrolls, the Eight Buddhist Emblems, the Three Friends of Winter, and clusters of fruits. Eight bowls painted with different patterns, in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, were included in the Special Exhibition of Selected Hsüan-te Imperial Porcelains of the Ming Dynasty, Taipei, 1998, cat. nos 42-49.

Selected Imperial Ceramics from the Tianminlou Collection

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Hong Kong