HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE PAST :
A Rare Chongzhen (1628-1644) Porcelain Jar Dated 1640. Decorated with an Open Landscape Scroll, a Vase of Flowers and other Objects. Dated by Inscription to 1640.
Christie’s London, Feb. 1979 Lot 52.
Ben Janssens Oriental Art.
A Private English Collection.
R & G McPherson Antiques.
The John Drew Collection.
The Hatcher Porcelain Cargo’s (Colin Sheaf and Richard Kilburn, Phaidon 1988).
Seventeenth Century Chinese Blue and White Porcelain From The Private Collection of Eileen Lesouef (Exhibition Catalogue, Ben Janssens Oriental Art, Undated) page 24, plate 21.
stock number 18632
A Fine and Rare Kangxi Famille Verte Porcelain Month Cup. Kangxi Six Character Mark and of the Period. Finely Potted with Steep Sides, Painted with a Flowering and Fruiting Pomegranate Tree Among Flowers, Emblematic of the 5th Month. The Reverse Painted in Underglaze Cobalt Blue with a Couplet by a Tang Dynasty (618-907) Poet : “Lu Se Zhu Lian Ying Xiang Feng Fen Bi Zhe”`Its colour unfolds like the sun on pearl curtains, The breeze bears its fragrance in the shade of the white-washed wall`. The Seal “Shang” means `appreciation`.
For a Kangxi Famille Verte Month Cup See : Christie`s New York, Fine Chinese ceramics and Works of Art, 22nd March 2007, Lot 364. Famille Verte Cups Representing the 5th Month, painted with a pomegranate tree are particularly rare, see : Sotheby`s Fine Chinese Ceramics, 19th June 2002, Lot 45. For a Another Kangxi of a Different Month See : Sotheby`s, Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, London, 13th July 2005, Lot 253.
Robert McPherson Antiques.
Purchased 28th June 1995. The John Drew Collection, purchased 28th June 1995.
stock number 18571.
A Fine and Rare Large Inscribed Transitional Porcelain Sleeve Vase, Late Ming Dynasty,
Chongzhen Period 1628 – 1644. Including a Boy Offering a Book Inscribed `Meng De Xin Shu` which can be Literally Translated as `New Book By Meng De`. Meng De was a Sort of Pen Name, Cao Cao (155-220) was a Warlord and the Penultimate Chancellor of the Eastern Han Dynasty. This Vase is Decorated in Strong Violet Blue, the Shoulder and Lower Section with An Hua Incised Decoration.
It is highly unusual to fined an inscription such as this hidden within the design of Transitional Porcelain. The words written on the book are Meng De Xin Shu, which as a Literal translation means `New Book By Meng De` or can mean `Cao Cao`s new book` Cao Cao was a warlord and the Penultimate Chancellor of the Eastern Han Dynasty. As one of the central figures of the Three Kingdoms Period, he laid the foundations for what was to become the Kingdom of Wei (also known as Cáo Wèi) and was posthumously titled Emperor Wu of Wei. But the book was said to have been burnt, so it was not passed down. It`s a plot was used in the famous classic novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong written in the 14th century, which is one of Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature.
CAO CAO 155 – 220 A.D.
Cáo Cāo (155 – March 15, 220) was a warlord and the penultimate Chancellor of the Eastern Han Dynasty who rose to great power during its final years in ancient China. As one of the central figures of the Three Kingdoms period, he laid the foundations for what was to become the Kingdom of Wei (also known as Cáo Wèi) and was posthumously titled Emperor Wu of Wei. Although often portrayed as a cruel and merciless tyrant, Cao Cao has also been praised as a brilliant ruler and military genius who treated his officers like his family. He was also skilled in poetry and the martial arts, and wrote many war journals. Cao Cao left Luoyang for Chenliu, where he raised his own troops. The next year, regional warlords combined their forces under Yuan Shao against Dong Zhuo. Cao Cao joined their cause. China fell into civil war when Dong Zhuo`s own foster son, Lü Bu, eventually killed him in 192. Through short-term and regional-scale wars, Cao Cao continued to expand his power. In 196, Cao Cao found Emperor Xian and convinced him to move the capital to Xuchang as per the suggestion from Xun Yu and other advisors (as Luoyang was ruined by war and Chang`an was not under Cao Cao`s military control), and he was proclaimed Chancellor. Cao Cao was then instated as the Great General (大將軍) and Marquis of Wuping, though both titles had little practical implication. While some viewed the Emperor as a puppet under Cao Cao`s power, Cao Cao himself adhered to a strict personal rule to his death that he would not usurp the throne. Later in his life, when he was approached by his advisers to take over the Han Dynasty and start a new rule, he replied, “If heaven bestows such fate on me, let me be the King Wen of Zhou.” Cao Cao was able to unify Northern China. In 213, Cao Cao was titled Duke of Wei, given the nine bestowments, and given a fief of ten cities under his domain, known as the State of Wei. In 216, Cao Cao was promoted to King of Wei. Over the years, Cao Cao, as well as Liu Bei and Sun Quan, continued to consolidate their power in their respective regions. Through many wars, China became divided into three powers – Wei, Shu and Wu, which fought sporadic battles among themselves without the balance tipping significantly in anyone`s favour. In 220, Cao Cao died in Luoyang at the age of 65, failing to unify China under his rule. His will instructed that he be buried in everyday clothes and without burial artefacts, and that his subjects on duty at the frontier were to stay in their posts and not attend the funeral as, in his own words, “the country is still unstable”.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms :
Romance of the Three Kingdoms was written by Luo Guanzhong in the 14th century, it is a Chinese historical novel based upon events in the turbulent years near the end of the Han Dynasty and the Three Kingdoms era of China, starting in 169 and ending with the reunification of the land in 280. Myths from the Three Kingdoms era existed as oral traditions before any written compilations. In these popular stories, the characters typically took on exaggerated characteristics, often becoming immortals or supernatural beings with magical powers. With their focus on the history of Han Chinese, the stories grew in popularity during the reign of the foreign Mongol emperors of the Yuan Dynasty. During the succeeding Ming Dynasty, an interest in plays and novels resulted in further expansions and retelling of the stories. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms is traditionally attributed to Luo Guanzhong, who lived sometime between 1315 and 1400 (late Yuan to early Ming period). Some scholars argue for an origin from around the second half of the fifteenth century (mid-Ming) based on characteristics of the text. This theory is extensively developed in Andrew Plaks’ Four Masterworks of the Ming Novel. It was written in partly vernacular and partly Classical Chinese and was considered the standard text for 300 years. The author made use of available historical records, including the Records of the Three Kingdoms compiled by Chen Shou, which covered events from the Yellow Turban Rebellion in 184 up to the unification of the three kingdoms under the Jin Dynasty in AD 280. The novel also includes material from Tang Dynasty poetic works, Yuan Dynasty operas and his own personal interpretation of elements such as virtue and legitimacy. It was copied by hand until first printed in 1522 as Sanguozhi tongsu yanyi In the 1660s, during Kangxi’s reign in the Qing Dynasty, Mao Lun and his son Mao Zonggang significantly edited the text, most passages praising Cao Cao’s advisers and commanders were removed. Scholars have long debated whether Mao’s viewpoint was anti-Qing (identifying Southern Ming remnants with Shu-Han) or pro-Qing. The previous version was almost completely supplanted by Mao’s edition, which is considered to be the superior literary work. This novel reflects the Confucian values that were prominent at the time it was written. According to Confucian moral standards, loyalty to one’s family, friends, and superiors are important measures for distinguishing good and bad people. In the novel, characters who were not loyal to the collapsing Han Dynasty are portrayed as bad people; on the contrary, modern mainstream ideology in Communist China would say that the deeply suffering masses were trying to overthrow the ruling feudal lords.
For more information see ;
stock number 20700.
Part of a Large Rare 16th Century Ming Pottery Mingqi Processional Set that Includes
Mounted Musicians, a Processional Arch, Processional Banners as Well as Domestic Furniture Such as Beds, a Wash-Stand, a Kitchen Range, Screen, and a Scholars Desk as Well as Many other Objects.
This Ming processional group is highly unusual in both its quality as well as the objects included. Most of these groups are moulded with little or no hand decorated details, the present Ming group has a lot of fine detail added by hand, for example the brick work is delineated with a stylus, decoration is also added using punches for example on the cloth draped over the chair. The sections of the well come apart, the rope coil is painted onto the cylinder that is supported by a seperate pole. There are many Ming funerary sets known but carefully observed and crafted objects like the present example are very rare, the scholar’s desk with its writing equipment laid out is exceptional, it shows an ink-stone with black to show where it has been used, brushes, a brush-rest,as well as a book and water-pot. There are many other highly unusual object within this group.
A Ming stone processional group showing similar figures from the tomb of Mme Shen (1498-1577) were excavated in Tongliang xian, Sichuan province and illustrated in Catalogue of Late Yuan and Ming Ceramics in the British Museum.(Jessica Harrison-Hall.The British Museum Press, 2001. ISBN 0-7141-1488-X.) fig 1. page 546. Also see : Catalogue of Late Yuan and Ming Ceramics in the British Museum.(Jessica Harrison-Hall, The British Museum Press, 2001. ISBN 0-7141-1488-X.) for a Ming pottery group dated to 1450 – 1600 which includes many buildings, pages 550 -551, fig. 20:1- 20:7. For a glazed Ming processional group dated Jiajing 37th year, corresponding to 1558 see : Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, Christie’s, New York 3rd December 1992, lot 287. For a further Ming glazed pottery set see : Fine Chinese ceramics and Works of Art, Sotheby’s New York, 28th May 1991, lot 212.
Purchased from Kalen Chang in Hong Kong c.1985.
Collection of Baroness Dunn.
Lydia Selina Dunn, Baroness Dunn, DBE, JP was the Senior Unofficial Member of the Legislative Council and Executive Council in Hong Kong in 1985-1988 and 1988-1995, after Rogerio Hyndman Lobo and Chung Sze Yuen respectively. She has been deputy chairman of HSBC in 1992-2008. As one of the most senior politicians in Hong Kong, Baroness Dunn had considerable influence in the Government of Hong Kong before her retirement in 1992, after Chris Patten was made Governor.
stock number 21429.
A Large Qianlong Blue and White Porcelain Vase in the Ming Style. The Compressed
Globular Body Supports a Tall Neck with a Flared Rim. Finely Painted with `Heaped and Piling` in Imitation of the Classic Ming Blue and White of the Early 15th Century. The Neck Decorated with a Band of Crashing Waves with a Collar of Ruyi-Heads Below. The Body Surrounded by a Band of `Stiff leaves` with the Bajixiang, The `Eight Buddhist Treasures` Above a Complex Intertwined Peony Design. The Design Above the Foot is of Ogee Form with White Against Blue. The Foot Decorated with a Geometric Pattern.
Ming Style Qing Blue and White Porcelain :
This very well painted blue and white Qianlong vase belongs to a large and varied group of Ming style porcelain produced during the Yongzheng (1723-1735) and Qianlong (1736 – 1795) periods. Some pieces were imperial commissions baring the seal marks of the period, rather than six character reign marks. Possibly the standard script mark was avoided to help show that the piece was in the style of, rather than in imitation of, porcelain produced during the Ming dynasty, the marks rarely if ever copy Ming marks. Few of these pieces are direct copies of early 15th century Ming porcelain, rather they take elements of the designs and paint them in similar ways but use new or adapted shapes. The present piece would probably have been made for a scholar collector.
The Bajixiang, The Eight Buddhist Treasures :
1. Lotus flower. Representing purity and enlightenment.
2. Endless knot, or, the Mandala. Representing harmony.
3. Golden Fish pair. Representing conjugal happiness and freedom.
4. Victory Banner. Representing a victorious battle.
5. Wheel of Dharma or Chamaru in Nepali Buddhism. Representing knowledge.
6. Treasure Vase. Representing inexhaustible treasure and wealth.
7. Parasol. Representing the crown, and protection from the elements.
8. Conch shell. Representing the thoughts of the Buddha.
stock number 21281.
A Fine and Rare Imperial Ming Porcelain Bowl, Xuande Six Character Mark and of the
Period 1426 – 1435. The Substantially Potted Fruit Bowl is of Shallow Form with Rounded Sides. Decorated in a Strong Cobalt Blue with Lingzhi Fungus Bourne on Continuous Scrolling Vine. The Lower Part of the Bowl with Lappet Bands with Scroll Motifs to the Sides of the Shallow Foot. Below the Double Lines at the Top of the Scrolling Vine is a Xuande Six Character Mark.
Xuande 1426 – 1435
Hongxi was Yongle`s eldest son, he was ill and only reigned China for less than a year during 1425. He had 10 sons of which Xuande was the eldest. Born in 1398 as Zhu Zhanji he became Hair Apparent in 1424 and on accession to the imperial throne in 1426 he took the name Xuande. He is seen as one of the great emperors of China, indeed Ann Paludan in her book `Chronicle of the Chinese Emperors` refers to him having “something of the Renaissance `perfect man` about him”. Xuande skills were wide ranging, he had the ability to reform and reorganise the country, as well as great military skills but he was also a poet and artist as well. Xuande particularly liked painting animals and some of these are still in existence in the National Palace Museum, Taipei (see `Links`). He would often sign his works as `Playfully painted by the imperial brush`. He was a great patron of the arts and an avid collector who sent eunuchs to collect valuable rarities from all over China. Xuande died in 1435 and was buried with 10 concubines at the Xuanzong tomb (`Proclaimed Ancestor`), Jingling, Shisanling, Hebei.
An imperial Xuande bowl of this pattern is in the Beijing Palace Museum and is illustrated in : Blue and White Porcelain with Underglaze Red(I), the Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Hong Kong, 2000. Page 156. Another Xuande bowl of this pattern is in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, this is illustrated in : Catalogue of the Special Exhibition of Selected Hsuan-te Imperial Porcelains of the Ming Dynasty. Page 144. For a further Xuande bowl of this design see : Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, Christie`s Hong Kong, 27th November 2007 sold for HK$ 6,935.500.
Sotheby`s 6th July 1976 Lot 214 From the E.Allen Collection.
A Private Collection of Chinese Porcelain From 1976.
Exhibited / Published :
`Mittens Rike`. Items on loan from collectors in the Ming Tz’u society in Boras, Sweden, October 1985. Museum of Far Eastern Antiques, Stockholm. Röhska Museum, Gothenburg. Kempe Collection, Ekolsund. Historical Museum, Gothenburg and Kulturen, Lund. `Mittens Rike` Cultural centre of Boras Sweden. `Mittens Rike` had 835 exhibits and a printed 200 page catalogue. The bowl was discussed by Ms. Margaret Medley (PDF), Prof. Bo Gyllensvärd (MFEA), Dr Jan Wirgin (MFEA) among others. The label from this exhibition is on the base of the bowl.
Catalogue Entry :(Translation from Swedish to English) No. 202 Hsuan-Te Dice Bowl Bowl in porcelain decorated in underglazed blue picturing flowers, vines and ling-chih fungus. D. 29 cm. Xuande’s six-characters and of the period. The bowl is called “dicebowl”, used at games, hence the strong construction.
stock number 22218.
A Rare Chinese Export Porcelain Blanc de Chine Group of Europeans Hunting, Kangxi
Period c.1690 – 1720, from the Dehua Kilns in Fujian Province. Depicting Two Europeans in Tricorne Hats Steadying their Aim with their Pistols Over their Bent Arms. A Further European with a Tricorne Hat Also Takes Aim at the Deer, Another European Figure Behind him Gives a Hunting Cry. The Scene is Set on the Side of a Hill or Mountain with a Gnarled Pine Tree with a Small Building and Bird, The Two Deer are Surrounded with the Hunters Either Side of a Bridge. The Unglazed Hollow Base is Supported with Struts of Clay, a Typical Feature of Kangxi Blanc de Chine Figures and Groups Made for the European Market.
Westerners in Blanc de Chine Porcelain :
Blanc de Chine Porcelain models of Westerners are quite commonly found during the Kangxi period, these are normally rather small pieces depicting one or two figures often with tricorne hats. Sometimes these are found on water-droppers, a purely Chinese form, but they were however made for export to Europe. Larger groups are rarer, the group of a European family, occasionally referred to as ‘Governor Duff’ is the most frequently encountered.
A very similar group is illustrated in : Oriental Export Market Porcelain and its Influence on European Wares (Geoffrey A. Godden, Granada, 1979.ISBN 0246110570) Godden suggests it maybe “linked with the ‘Rock with men and beasts’ valued at 3s each in the sale catalogue of April 1703 relating to articles loaded at Amoy in 1701″. Another group is in : Blanc de Chine (P.J. Donnelly, Faber and Faber, 1969 (ISBN 571-08078-2) Donnelly mentions that a version of this group is in the collection of Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony, and is listed as N31 in the inventory begun in 1721. A further blanc de chine group is in : China for the West, Chinese Porcelain & other Decorative Arts for Export Illustrated from the Mottahedeh Collection (David S. Howard and John Ayers, Sotheby’s,1978) Volume 1 page 98, number 64. This group was sold for $26,625, see : Important Chinese Export Porcelain and Chinese Works of Art from the Collection of the Late Mildred R. and Rafi Y. Mottahedeh, Sotheby’s New York, October 19th 2000. For a further group see : Chinese Export Porcelain and Decorative Works of Art, Sotheby’s London, 9th and 12th of June 1989, lot 47, sold for £660.
stock number 21383.
A Rare Kangxi Blue and White Porcelain ‘Flower Pyramid’ in the Delft Pottery Style of
Adriaen Kocks (De Griexe A Factory).
Large flower pyramids of this type were made in Holland for William and Mary at Hampton Court among other palaces. Compare to the flower pyramid at Hampton Court and illustrated in : ‘Delffs Porcelijn’ Van Koningin Mary II, Queen Mary’s ‘Delft Porcelain’, Ceramics at Het Loo from the Time of William and Mary. Page 41 illustrated on page 40 ; dated to 1689-1695.
Vases of this type were not referred to as tulip vases in 17th or 18th century inventories, that was a 19th century misunderstanding. Tulip mania had been and gone by the time vases of this shape were in production. Queen Mary’s inventories call them ‘flower pyramids’. Some may indeed have had tulips in them but they might just have well had hyacinths. They could be used for cut flowers while others might have had bulbs planted in them. The small size of the present example makes it clear it was intended for cut flowers. Few Chinese porcelain examples have survived.
stock number 19400.
A Fine and Rare Chinese Export Porcelain Plate After a Meissen Original, Qianlong Period c.1740. The Central Scene is within a Cartouche Derived from Meissen Porcelain Containing a Well Dressed Shepherdess with a Sheep. The Chinese Style Gold and Black Borders are of Grapes and Vine with the Addition of a Finger Citrus, Prunus Flowers and Peony Among Others.
Rafi Y. Mottahedeh Collection.
Fleur De Lis, London.
The Tom Lurie Collection of Chinese Export Porcelain, purchased 15th January 1990.
Virginia Museum, 1981-982.
Sotheby’s New York 1984.
La Porcelain des Companies des Indies, page 356. No.15.47.
China for the West, Chinese Porcelain & other Decorative Arts for Export Illustrated from the Mottahedeh Collection (David S. Howard and John Ayers, Sotheby’s,1978), page 523 plate 532.
Masterpieces (Howard and Ayres) page 70, No.532. Cover in Colour.
stock number 21017.
A Fine Yuan Qingbai Porcelain Plum Blossom Vase, Probably Jingdezhen Kilns, Jiangxi
Province, c.1300-1340. This Elegantly Potted Qingbai Vase is Decorated with a Single Applied Sprig of Meihua Prunus (Plum) with One Open Flower. The Branch and Buds of the Plum are Created Using Wet Clay Applied by Hand Where as the Flower is Moulded. The Pair of `S` Shaped Handles are Hand Constructed Rather than Mould Made. The Glaze is Bright and of a Strong Blue.
Qingbai Ware :
The earliest known qingbai wares were produced in Jingdezhen in Jiangxi province around the late 10th century and are characterized by faint pale-blue glazes on low, wide forms. Qingbai continued to be enormously popular and highly produced throughout the Song dynasty (960-1279) and was prevalent in the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368), but slackened during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) until being replaced by tianbai, ‘sweet white’ ware. The initial forms of qingbai were simple bowls and dishes, but by the mid-Northern Song the forms had advanced to include a wide variety of objects used for daily life such as ewers, boxes, incense burners, granary models, vases, jars, sculptures, cups, cupstands, water droppers, lamps, grave wares, and tools for writing and painting. The precedent for the majority of these forms is found in earlier metalwork and lacquer and Rawson has suggested that the imitation of silver was the primary force behind the production of white wares, including qingbai. See our `History` section for more information about Song Porcelain and Stoneware by Mindy M. McDonald.
Plum Blossom :
Plum Meihua is one of the most important plants in Chinese art. Their flowers grow on knurled old angular branches, the flowers are fragile and pure, so they can be a symbol of vigour in old age as well as purity. The tree is the first to flower after the long hard winter, symbolically it can represent perseverance as well as renewal. This meaning is enhanced by a background of cracked-ice, the design can be seen as representing the end of winter and the beginning of spring with the ice of winter cracking to reveal a new year dawning. Branches of plum blossom convey the `Five Blessings` Meikai wufu, longevity, wealth, health, love of virtue and a peaceful death. The number five, an auspicious number to the Chinese, is taken from the five petals of the plum flower.
For a very similar Yuan Qingbai vase See : Jingdezhen Wares, The Yuan Evolution, Catalogue of an Exhibition Presented by The Oriental Ceramic Society of Hong Kong and the Fung Ping Shan Museum, University of Hong Kong 23 March to 31 May 1984 (The Oriental Ceramic Society of Hong Kong,1984.) page 96, plate 29. For a vase of this type with a very similar applied prunus sprig but with See : Cultural Relics Found Off Sinan Coast (Various authors, National Museum of Korea 1977) plate 188. For a related Yuan Qingbai attributed to the Jingdezhen kilns See : Chinese and South East Asian White Ware found in the Philippines (Oriental Ceramic Society of the Philippines, Oxford University Press, 1993. ISBN 0-19-588615-1) page 79, plate 39.
stock number 21862.
An advertisement from Apollo Magazine of September 1934 shows this vase was being offered for sale by the London dealers Sydney L. Moss (see the last picture for a scan of this advertisement). The Advertisement states A rare Chinese porcelain vase, height 7 1/2 ins., with Ying-Ching glaze of pale celadon. Mint condition. Ju type glaze, Sung Period 960-1279. This superb piece will be shown on our stand (No. 22) at the Antique Dealer`s fair, Grosvenor House, Sept.21 to Oct 13th.”
stock number 22475.
A Fine Ming Blanc de Chine Porcelain Figure of Guanyin. Produced at the Dehua Kilns
Fujian Province at the End of the Ming Dynasty During the the Chongzhen Period 1628 – 1644. Thickly Potted with a Lot of Hand-Work, Deep Under Cutting and Tooling. This Well Modelled Figure Shows Guanyin Holding a Scroll on a Rockwork Base.
Blanc de Chine Porcelain :
The porcelain known in the West as Blanc de Chine was produced 300 miles south of the main Chinese kiln complex of Jingdezhen. The term refers to the fine grain white porcelain made at the kilns situated near Dehua in the coastal province of Fujian, these kilns also produced other types of porcelain. A rather freely painted blue and white ware, porcelain with brightly coloured ‘Swatow’ type enamels as well as pieces with a brown iron-rich glaze. However it is the white blanc de Chine wares that have made these kilns famous. The quality and colour achieved by the Dehua potters was partly due to the local porcelain stone, it was unusually pure and was used without kaolin being added. This, combined with a low iron content and other chemical factors within the body as well as the glaze, enabled the potters to produce superb ivory-white porcelain.
Private Collection in 1923.
From the Collection of The Counts of Cao Di San Marco.
From the Alan Green Collection of Blanc de Chine Porcelain.
R & G McPherson Antiques.
The Roy Davids Collection of Chinese and Japanese Porcelain.
Kang-Hsi by Von Walter Bondy, Berlin 1923. Illustrated page 199.
stock number 21356.
A Fine and Rare Kangxi Porcelain Dish After a Book Imperially Commissioned by Kangxi in 1696, Gengzhi Tu (Pictures of Tilling and Weaving). This Very Well Painted Lively Scene Depicts Scene 17, Flailing the Rice. Four Men Can be Seen Hard at Work While an Assistant Pours Cups of Rice Wine or Tea, Their Living Accommodation is on the Right with a Blue Robe Hanging to Dry. A Seven Character Quatrain (Poem) Ends with a Gold and Iron-Red Seal Reading `Bao He Tai`.
Gengzhi Tu, Pictures of Tilling and Weaving :
The best known version of this book is the one commissioned by Kangxi, however its origins are much older. The original Gengzhi Tu was compiled by Lou Shou (1090-1162) during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). It was first published around 1237 and contained 45 illustrations – 21 scenes of tilling and 24 on the cultivation of rice – accompanied by poems. The depiction of agricultural was seen both as a reference to practical farming and as a metaphor for a well-ordered Confucian society. Kangxi commissioned and partly wrote his own version in 1696, it is also known as the Yuzhi (imperial) Gengzhi Tu. Kangxi wrote the preface to the book which was printed in brown ink, the book was illustrated throughout with woodcut prints of agricultural scenes by Zhu Gui after Jiao Bingzhen. Jiao Bingzhen was employed in the Imperial Board of Astronomy. He was one of the first Chinese artists to study Western perspective under European missionary artists also serving on the board. Their influence is evident in his illustrative work. Each woodcut has an integral poem and faced by a single page poem, possibly by Kangxi himself. Above each illustration are seven character quatrains (poems) that were originally thought to have been composed and written by the emperor. It is now generally thought that they were composed by scholars at court and written in imitation of the Emperor`s style of hand-writing (Sören Edgren. Chinese rare books in American collections China House Gallery, China Institute in America, 1984, item 38). The forty-six woodcut prints show a scene of contemporary Qing life relating to the growth of silk-worms, the production of silk and agriculture. The motives behind Kangxi`s commissioning of the book are, like the emperor himself, rather complex. I suspect that part of his motive was to show a continuity, a connection between his reign and the reigns of successful emperors of the past. This would show homage to emperors past and at the same time elevate his Manchu leadership to that of great ages of the Song and Ming dynasties. Like the original Song Dynasty book there are strong Confucian values instilled with the production of Kangxi`s book. It can also be seen as a mirror of his pride in the successful agrarian culture of his country. Kangxi travelled widely in China and took great interest in every detail of it from the imperial court to the peasants in the field, how many hours they worked, their pay as well as their everyday life. He was very aware of the fact that China`s wealth depended on the work produced by the common people and this book is a tangible reminder of that. Despite the books imperial connections the few pieces of porcelain produced after designs from the book are not imperial. They are exceptionally well painted but most, if not all, lack imperial marks. It does however seam likely the were made for the Chinese market.
A Kangxi porcelain of this type is in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
stock number 21800.
A Very Rare 17th Century Arita Porcelain Bottle Decorated in Blue and White with ‘The
Star of David’ Within a Wreath. Thickly Potted and of Globular Shape, with a Tapering Neck Terminating with a Double Flanged Mouth.
Japanese Porcelain Bottles For The West :
This very rare bottle relates to a well known group of 17th century Japanese porcelain bottles made at Arita between c.1670 and 1700 for the Dutch market. The form is based on Dutch glass bottles of the period. They occur as blanks to be used by Surgeon’s shops at Batavia, on board ship or in the kitchen. A bottle of this form is depicted being used by the Japanese during a pick nick (see our ‘Sold Items’ stock number 19870), the bottle depicted is clearly inscribed ‘F.W.’. Indeed many of these bottles have initial, and according to Jorg (see reference below) ‘F.W.’ might refer to the contents, Franse Wijn (French Wine). Many of the initialled bottles, however, have the initials of the owners, rather than their contents. The present example is exceptional in that it has the Jewish design ‘The Star of David’ (Shield of David or Magen David in Hebrew), no other example appears to be known. Given that these bottles were made as special orders for the Dutch market it is possible that this bottle was made for a Dutch synagogue in Batavia or in Holland. .
For 17th century Arita Porcelain bottle for the Dutch market see : Fine and Curious, Japanese Export Porcelain in Dutch Collections (Christiaan J.A.Jorg,Hotei Publishing,2003. ISBN 90-74822-16-9) pages 218-223.
stock number 21430.
A Yuan Pottery Horse and Carriage Possibly from Shaanxi Province. The Grey Pottery with Moulded and Cut Work. The Separately Produced Wheels Would Have Originally Been Supported by a Wooden Axel.
The Museum of Art and Far Eastern Antiquities in Ulricehamn Sweden.
Chinese Ceramic Treasures, A Selection From Ulricehamn East Asian Museum, Including The Carl Kempe Collection (National Museum of Art and Far Eastern Antiquities in Ulrichenhamn, Sweden, 2002.ISBN 91-971367-4-3) Page 239 Plate 206. The catalogue entry is in Swedish partly translated into English. The English entry reads “A horse and carriage in dark greyish unglazed earthenware. This elegant and unusual carriage differs from the more common heavy Han carts and dates to the Yuan dynasty. There is no rider or driver and no slip or coloured pigments can be seen. Similar wares have been found recently in Shaanxi province.”
stock number 20452.
A Fine and Rare London Decorated Kangxi Blanc de Chine Porcelain Chocolate Pot. Decorated with Chinese Figures One of which, the Sower, is from Athanasius Kircher’s ‘Description of China’, that was published together with John Ogilby’s English Translation of Nieuhof’s ‘Embassy to China’ in 1669 (H.Espir). The bronze mounts are 18th century.
Dr Bernard Watney.
The Watney Collection of Chinese Porcelain Decorated in Holland and England. Bonham’s, New Bond street, London 7th November 2003. Lot 6 Illustrated on page 14.
E and H Manners, Kensington Church Street.
Mr Alan Green.
The British Museum ‘East Meets West’ Exhibition. Over Decorated Porcelain (1 October 2001 to 20 May 2002).
European Decoration on Oriental Porcelain 1700 – 1830 (Helen Espir, Jorge Welsh Books, 2005) 214 Full page illustration. Pages 211 and 215. The English Decoration of Oriental Porcelain : some overlooked groups 1700-1750. A paper read by Errol Manners at the Courtauld Institute on 18th October 2003. Item 22.
stock number 19404.
A Rare Late Ming or Early Qing Porcelain Night Light in the Form of Cat, 17th Century. Lightly Potted and Naturalistically Modelled With the Fur Painted in a Light blue of a Silvery Tone. A Few Cat Night Lights Were Recovered from the Hatcher Cargo of c.1643.
For a similar example but with cloud scrolls decorated over the fur see Sotheby’s New York, 31st of May 1994, described as Kangxi, Lot 313. Other examples can be found in Famille Verte and Famille Rose enamels.
stock number 17109.
An Early 18th Century Meissen Porcelain Saucer, Böttger Porcelain c.1715-1720. The Saucer is Moulded with Baroque Swags and Masks to the Back. With Slightly Later (c.1725-1735) Hausmalerei Decoration in the Chinoiserie Style of Johann Gregor Höroldt (1696 – 1775). It is Probable that the Saucer was Painted in Augsburg by One of Two Sisters, Either Sabina Hosennestel (1706-1782) or Elisabeth Wald.
Hausmalerei Decoration :
The term Hausmalerei refers to porcelain decorated outside the factory. This outside decoration was done by enamellers who worked at home using small enamel kilns. Painters from the factory sometimes worked at home after hours, this happened at Sevres as well but the Royal control was such that this was an even less common occurrence, but workers from either factory were severely punished if they were caught. The Hausmalerei decorators who painted Meissen porcelain sometimes used pieces from a slightly earlier period, plain white porcelain was normally used but decorated pieces were also embellishments to make them more saleable. Hausmalerei decoration was in existence before the Meissen Porcelain factory started, Hausmalerei was being applied in Holland, at Delft, on Japanese and Chinese Porcelain. In England too pieces of Chinese porcelain, especially Blanc de Chine were being decorated as early as 1700.
For a rare Meissen Hausmalerei saucer initialled ‘SH’ for Sabina Hosennestel see : Important Pottery and Porcelain, Sotheby’s, London 17th March 1987. Lot 296.
stock number 21597.
A Fine Kangxi Blue and White Porcelain Bitong, Brushpot. Well Painted Using Vibrant Cobalt Blue of Varying Tones with the ‘Four Accomplishments’. The Literati are Shown Playing the Qin, Playing Weiqi, Painting and Writing (Calligraphy). The Base with a Small Glazed Recess Area with a Leaf Mark Surrounded by an Unglazed Ring.
Brushpots / Bitong :
Bitong, brushpots are not found in 17th or early 18th century European inventories unlike some other ceramic forms which fore fill a specific Chinese function. Blanc de chine ‘libation cups’, were for example, were made for drinking wine in China but they were imported in large numbers into the West. There curious forms appealed to Western tastes and were used in European displays or converted with the addition of a gilt bronze handle to become a bonbon dishes. Brushpots on the other hand seem to have been made exclusively for the Chinese domestic market, more specifically for the scholar literati class.Bitong are an essential part of literati’s desk, what is often referred to as a scholars desk. Other scholarly items for the desk might include a brush-rest, inkstone (for grinding the dry ink) a water pot for the water to add to the inkstone, a brushwasher as well as a table screen. As with the present brushpot the subject matter reflected scholarly themes.
For a similar Kangxi Blue and White Porcelain brushpot see : Seventeenth Century Jingdezhen Porcelain from the Shanghai Museum and the Butler Collection (Shanghi Museum,2006. ISBN 1-85759-417-7) page 280 plate 102. For a Kangxi blue and white brushpot with this subject see : Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, 3rd November 2009. Lot 295. Sold £55,000.
From a German Private Collection.
stock number 21350.
A Rare Dutch Re-Decorated Chinese Export Porcelain Dish, Yongzheng Period 1723-1735, Decorated in Holland in c.1730 – 1740. Entirely Painted in Holland in the Style and Palette of Early Famille Rose Porcelain with Two Well Dressed Figures in a Garden Landscape. A Lady on the Right Receives a Guqin (See below) Wrapped in Cloth from a Female Servant. The Original Chinese Decoration has Been Totally Erased but is Viable Due to a Feint `Shadow` of the Original Design Showing. This Appears to been of Simple Scattered Flower with Diaper Border.
Re-Decorated Chinese Porcelain :
For convenience it might be practical to divide European decoration of Chinese export porcelain into three groups. Firstly where the European decoration had been used to augment the existing Chinese enamel, blue and white or incised decoration, see stock number 21823 for an example. This was used to enliven designs that were rather plain or indeed sometimes where the Chinese porcelain was undecorated to start with. The second group can be termed `over-decorated`, where the European enamelling was added partly or wholly on top of the existing Chinese enamels, sometimes taking no notice of the original design, see stock number 21567 for an example. The last and by far the least common, where the original Chinese enamels have been partly or entirely removed so as to leave some space or a `blank canvas` for the European decorator. Chinese porcelain with European decoration is rarely encountered where the whole of the original design has been removed because it must have been a very laborious and expensive solution to improving the object, stock number 22037 is the only example were have had. The point of adding European decoration was, of cause, to increase the desirability of the Chinese porcelain object and so increase the profit of the merchant. One of these techniques would have be selected to improve the saleability of the porcelain by making it more attractive and more in keeping with current fashions.
stock number 22037.
A Rare Kangxi Blue and White Porcelain Figure Modelled as a Young Lohan, Standing on a Waisted Base, Holding a Sacred Book in His Hands.
This rare figure would have originally been from a set of Lohans which could possibly have included as many as 18 figures in total. The only other Kangxi blue and white figures we have seen are the rare figures of `Nobody` after the English Delftware originals and a figure that appeared to have come from the same set as the present example, we sold that figure many years ago. Blue and white porcelain figures were popular during the late Ming dynasty, single figures as well as groups were produced, probably the best known of these are the models of standing boys holding lotus flowers. Wucai and Famille Verte figures from the Kangxi period are also well know, but blue and white figures are extremely rare. The present model depicts a young Lohan with a book in his hands, this could possibly represent Nandimitra who is supposed to be represented with a book, but is also supposed to have two other attributes, an arms bowl and a incense vase.
Lohan Arhat :
A Lohan is the Chinese word used for a Buddhist Arhat, one who has followed the Eightfold Path and has achieved deliverance of this earthly existence. These holy Buddhist monks attained a form of sainthood through quite but rigorous religious study and good deeds. Most were loyal disciples of the Buddha who were called on to carry the faith abroad. Originally there were 16 Lohan but the Chinese added two during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), however there were as many as 500 lesser lohan. They are often depicted as having Indian features and are rather indomitable-looking, usually they carry their own specific attribute. Lohans are well-known for their great wisdom, courage and supernatural power. Due to their abilities to ward off the evil, Lohans have became guardian angels of the Buddhist temples.
stock number 21750 .
A Rare Wanli Blue and White Porcelain Bowl. The Base with a Wanli Mark Incorporating Yu Tang Jia Qi (Beautiful Vessel for Jade Hall). This Thinly Potted Wanli Porcelain Bowl is of Circular Form with a Slightly Everted Rim and Curved Sides, it is Covered by a Pale Blue-Grey Tinged Glaze, the Interior Painted in Fine Bright Underglaze Cobalt Blue with a Double Circle Enclosing a Medallion of Flowering Branches of Peony, the Underside Encircled Alternately by Roundels Enclosing Flowering Sprays and Fruiting Sprays Among Cloud Scrolls.
A Rare Wanli Mark :
This rare mark, a standard Wanli six character mark with the inclusion of ‘Beautiful Vessel for Jade Hall’ Wanli nian zhi Yu Tang Jia Qi is very neatly painted unlike marks on none-imperial Wanli porcelain. The present example is almost certainly imperial, the addition of the hall mark within the Wanli reign mark might not denote that this bowl was made for a specific imperial hall. Ming Wilson explains in ‘Rare Marks on Chinese Ceramics’ when discussing a Wanli bowl with a eight character mark that includes the characters meaning ‘for use in the Hall of Pure loyalty’ that the bowl was made for an official at court. The name ‘Hall of Pure loyalty’ was bestowed by Wanli on the high ranking official Zhang Juzheng (1525-1582). So it is quite possible the present example was also made for a high ranking official at the imperial court, however it is also possible the hall mark does indeed denote the place which the bowl was destined for. Gerald Reitlinger (1900-1978) states that when regarding porcelain reign marks and dating (1881):“Everyone was now in such a muddle that there was a sort of gentleman’s agreement not to talk about it any more.” From our ‘History’ section, see : Chinese Porcelain 25 Years of Unscholarly Collecting, An Entertainment and an Anthology of Scholars’ Taste,by D.R Laurence MD, 2003.
For a pair Wanli dishes with the mark discussed above see : Rare Marks on Chinese Ceramics, A Joint Exhibition from the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum (Ming Wilson, School of Oriental and African Studies in association with Victoria and Albert Museum. 1998. ISBN 0-7286-0290-3) pages 48 and 49 as well as the introduction.
stock number 20905.
A Rare Private Trade Nanking Cargo Japanese Imari Barber`s Bowl from the Wreck of the Geldermalsen c.1750.
Japanese Porcelain from the Nanking Cargo :
Although 10`s of thousands of pieces of Chinese porcelain were recovered from the wreck of the Geldermalsen only four pieces of Japanese porcelain were excavated from the wreck. We are pleased to have three of these pieces for sale now, they are from the collection of Henry Woods-Wilson. The Japanese pieces from the cargo are all different, although two are barber`s bowls of the same size and form. They are clearly `Private Trade` pieces, distinct from the main cargo, the V.O.C. allowed a certain amount of private trading by the crew. These rare pieces recovered from the wreck provide a valuable insight into the Japanese porcelain being produced at the same time as the blue and white Chinese porcelain we refer to as `Nanking Cargo`.
Barber`s Bowls :
This form originates in Europe and was in popular use during the 17th and 18th centuries. Despite its name it has nothing to do with hair-cutting. They were used by barbers for shaving and by barber-surgeons for blood-letting, the indented area of the rim allowed the bowl to be kept in close proximity to the neck for shaving or the arm for blood-letting. Many were made of metal, usually pewter or brass, as metal was a more robust material for a functional object but there were lots ceramic examples made too. English and Dutch Delftware barber`s bowls were made throughout this period, most were decorated in blue and white, but the Dutch also liked plain white Delft barber`s bowls. They were more than just purely functional objects, they enlivened barber`s shop, some even had the tools of the trade or an inscription relating to their function incorporated as part of the design. The top of the bowl or the footrim would be pierced so they could be hung up in the shop. This kept them out of harms way but also served to decorate the shop. Chinese and Japanese export porcelain barber`s bowl were made from the very end of the 17th century but most date to the first half of the 18th century. They were decorated in either blue and white, imari, Famille Rose or Famille Verte.
Japanese Imari Porcelain :
Imari Porcelain is the European collectors` name for a type of Japanese Porcelain made in the town of Arita, in the former Hizen Province, north western Kyūshū, and exported via the port of Imari, specifically for the European Export trade. Imari was simply the trans-shipment port for Arita wares, no porcelain was made there. The kilns at Arita formed the heart of the Japanese Porcelain industry, which developed in the early 17th century. Although Imari originating in Japan the tern is used to describe a whole range of ceramics from all over the world, they are all linked by their bright distinctive palette of blue, red and gold. The cobalt that created the blue was added prior to glazing, while the iron-oxide red and the gilding were applied after glazing.
The Geldermalsen :
The Geldermalsen built in 1746 was one of the newest and finest Dutch East Indiamen. It is one hundred and fifty feet long and forty-two feet wide. Captain Jan Morel, 33 years old, his many Dutch sailors and sixteen Englishmen set sail from Canton. On Monday January 3rd 1752 the Geldermalsen on its way to Holland hit a reef and sank. The survivors struggle on in a barge and long boat and reach Batavia in eight days. The wreck held a most valuable cargo of tea, as well as Chinese silks and textiles. All now lost. The vast porcelain cargo, as well as gold has survived. Tea was the real reason for the journey, ceramics accounting for only five per cent of the total value. The loss of the Geldermalsen cost the Dutch East India Company 900.000 guilders. However the porcelain from the sister ship the Amstelveen sold for far more than normal because it now carried all the porcelain to be sold in Holland that year. See `History` for more information about the Geldermalsen and other shipwrecks.
The Nanking Cargo, Chinese Export Porcelain and Gold. Christie`s Amsterdam (28th April-2nd of May 1986) lot 3243 sold together with a saucer (the only piece of Japanese porcelain from the cargo we don`t have) sold 4,060 guilders.
The Collection of Henry Woods-Wilson.
stock number 21989.
A Fine Kangxi Blue and White Porcelain Jar and Cover. Decorated with Two Pairs of Ladies in a Garden Landscape Standing Either Side of a Plant Pot. The Base with a Six Character Chenghua (Ming Dynasty 1465-1487) in Underglaze Blue. Kangxi porcelain is frequently found with a Ming Dynasty Chenghua mark. It was not intended to deceive , rather to show reverence to an earlier generation of potters, from what was considered to be a golden age.
stock number 17811.