A Rare Japanese Blue and White Porcelain Egret Dish


A Rare Japanese Blue and White Porcelain Dish, Arita Kilns c.1680-1710. This design of this dish is unusual in a number of different ways, mostly of all its striking, dynamic and uncompromising composition. The egret can’t be controlled, it is bursting out of the dish as if the physically limitations of the porcelain are no match for is power. The bird in white against blue, with solid legs and a near solid blue beak becomes a semi-abstract design against the blue veined lotus leaves. The lotus leaves have curled edges and vary in intensity of cobalt blue, in some areas the white of the porcelain shows, in other parts the blue was is very dark indeed. Brushes of a wide variety must have been employed, there are tiny dark marks on the legs of the egret, with large wet brushes used to fill in the tones on the lotus leaves. The design and execution could only be Japanese. The Reverse with painted Karakusa scrolling foliage and four spur marks.

See below for more photographs and references.


In excellent condition, the glaze is covered with a very fine crackle.
Diameter 21.4 cm (8 1/2 inches). Depth 3 cm.
Stock number



An Unusual Late Ming Lead-Glazed Pottery Egret Dish, Wanli or Tianqi c.1580-1625. Southern China, perhaps Guangdong Province.

Robert McPherson Antiques, Sold Archive - 25859

A Ming Lead-Glazed Pottery Dish From the Collection of Soame Jenyns - Robert McPherson Antiques - 25859
An Unusual Late Ming Lead-Glazed Pottery Dish, Wanli or Tianqi c.1580-1625. Southern China, perhaps Guangdong Province. The design shows an egret wading through lotus with a border of stylised lotus. This Ming pottery dish is decorated directly on the biscuit body with coloured lead-glazes, due to the high flux of lead-glaze the colours have bleed into one another. In places the decoration is almost out of control and in fact there is a small area where the biscuit body is left without glaze. This is something the Japanese would have enjoyed, beautifully drawn but this painting is vulnerable to the uncontrollable glaze that creates unevenness, accidents and imperfections. All of which adds to its character and is at the same time humble. Finger marks are visible on the base and the kiln supports were on the front of the dish making small faults on the rim. This Japanese taste Ming dish was in the collection of Soame Jenyns, Deputy Keeper of Asian Antiquities, British Museum (1950-1968). It is in published in his well known book ‘Ming Pottery and Porcelain’ (first published in 1953) see ‘Reference’ and ‘Provenance”. He describes this dish thus in 1955 “Dish, decorated in white, yellow and aubergine glazes on a green ground in the T’ang style. Southern Chinese. Probably the ‘kochi’ ware of the Japanese. About 1600”. In the body of the book “Much of this provincial Ming pottery recalls the T’ang in its soft lightly fired leaf-green glazes”. The Kochi ware referred to is Cochin ware or Jiaozhi ware from Guangdong Province in southern China. SOLD Condition Two chips to the lower part of the rim, see detailed photographs. Size Diameter 18.5 cm (7 1/3 inches) Provenance Soame Jenyns, Deputy Keeper of Asian Antiquities, British Museum (1950-1968). It was not in his collection in when his book 'Ming Pottery and Porcelain' (first published in 1953) was reprinted in 1988, where it is referred to as being "Formerly Soame Jenyns". Mr. Roger Soame Jenyns (1904-1976) was the foremost scholar of his generation in the arts of Japan and China. He was a discerning collector and a member of the British General Committee of the Royal Academy Exhibition 1935-1956. His books include Later Chinese Ceramics (1951) Ming Pottery and Porcelain (1953) Wares of the Transitional Period between Ming and the Ch'ing 1620-1683 (1955) Japanese Porcelain (1965) Japanese Pottery (1971) and (with Margaret Jourdain) Chinese Export Art in the Eighteenth Century (1950). For more information see : Provenance ; Collectors, Dealers & Scholars : Chinese Ceramics in Britain & America (Roy Davids, Dominic Jellinek, Privately Printed, 2011. ISBN 978-0-9570148-0-0). Stock number 25859 References Published in : Ming Pottery and Porcelain (Soame Jenyns, Faber and Faber 1953) page 9 and 154, plate 120a. Also in the reprint of 1988, where it is referred to as being "Formerly Soame Jenyns" (Soame Jenyns, Faber and Faber 1988) pages 8 and 227. Illustrated on page 226, plate 229.