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of finely potted slender form with broad rounded shoulders, rising to a slightly waisted neck with lipped rim, vividly painted in copper red of a pinkish tone with nine ferocious five-clawed dragons, their undulating scaly bodies prancing around the sides and captured in various poses, all reserved on a dense ground of turbulent rolling waves accented with foaming crests, two rugged pierced rocks in textured wash technique emerging from the base, all beneath the shoulder with a collar of pendant lappets enclosing bud motifs and a narrow band of scrolling lingzhi, the neck encircled by upright plantain leaves, the base slightly sunken
Collection of Mrs J.F. Pye.
Sotheby's London, 27th November 1973, lot 275.
Sotheby's Hong Kong, 22nd May 1979, lot 197.
Sotheby's Hong Kong, 7th May 2002, lot 579.
Sotheby's Hong Kong, 10th April 2006, lot 1536.
Judith Moorhouse, Collecting Oriental Antiques, Hamlyn, 1976, dust jacket.
Copper-red and cobalt-blue 'nine dragon' meiping of this type are very rare, although four other examples are recorded, all of slightly different proportions and of Qianlong mark and period. One Qianlong example in the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Blue and White Porcelain with Underglazed Red, part 3, Shanghai, 2000, pl. 205; another in the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, is published in The T.T. Tsui Galleries of Chinese Art, Toronto, 1996, pl. 124; a third in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, is illustrated in Suzanne G. Valenstein, A Handbook of Chinese Ceramics, New York, 1989, pl. 262; and one was sold in these rooms 1st May 2001, lot 534.
A second meiping in the Palace Museum, Beijing, has a similar design with the dragons painted in overglaze iron-red, see Kangxi, Yongzheng, Qianlong: Qing Porcelain from the Palace Museum Collection, Hong Kong, 1989, p. 327, pl. 8. Meiping vases of Qianlong mark and period, decorated in this complex technique in underglaze red and underglaze blue, are also known with other designs, all of them apparently done in very small numbers only, and none with the red used to such dramatic effect as on the present design. A meiping of the same proportions painted with fruit sprays was sold in these rooms as one of 'Eight Treasures from a Private Collection', 2nd November 1998, lot 301; two others with a different version of the fruit spray design are illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, op.cit., pl.231, and in Min Shin no Bijutsu, Tokyo, 1982, pl. 169; and a piece in Taiwan painted with a red-and-blue lotus scroll design is included in the Illustrated Catalogue of Ch'ing Dynasty Porcelain in the National Palace Museum, Republic of China: Ch'ien-lung Ware and Other Wares, Tokyo, 1981, pl. 20.
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