• Important Chinese Ceramics and auction at Christies

    Sale 2731

    Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art

    1 December 2009, Hong Kong

  • Lot 1921

    A FINE AND VERY RARE CORAL-GROUND FAMILLE ROSE 'TANG YING' BOWL

    Price Realised  

    A FINE AND VERY RARE CORAL-GROUND FAMILLE ROSE 'TANG YING' BOWL
    QIANLONG CYCLICAL YIHAI DATE, CORRESPONDING TO 1755 AND OF THE PERIOD

    Finely potted with rounded sides rising from a footless recessed base, the exterior decorated with a cartouche enclosing an iron-red seal, Pin Yue, 'Crescent Moon', before a short inscription in cursive script with the Yihai cyclical date, followed by two seals, Tao Zhui, 'Pottery caster', the opposite with another inscription followed by Han Mo, 'Brush (and) Ink', all against a rich coral-red ground, embellished with green foliage and blue flowers
    3 3/4 in. (9.7 cm) diam., box


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    The inscribed couplet can be translated as:

    In drunken stupor, (one dreams of) an evening's home coming on the lake of Immortals;
    Its gentle waves urging the monkey to return immortal fruit.

    In the shade, observe the sages preach;
    (they are) drunken beside the pavilion.


    This cup belongs to a very small group of imperial quality porcelains which can be related to Tang Ying (1682-1756), a cultivated scholar and the influential superintendent of the Imperial kilns in Jingdezhen. Tang Ying was a Vice-Director of the Imperial Household Department before appointed to the Jingdezhen factory in 1726, then started his long and illustrious career at Jingdezhen which lasted 25 years under the Yongzheng and Qianlong reigns. His experience and insight into the problems of porcelain production allowed him to make essential changes in the structure of the factory. Under his guidance, both technical improvement and the artistic perfection were achieved. For a further discussion on Tang Ying, cf. Peter Y.K. Lam, 'Tang Ying (1682-1756): The Imperial Factory Superintendent at Jingdezhen', Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society, vol.63, 1998-9, p.65, where the author identified a number of Tang's work in private and public collections worldwide.

    Tang Ying was regarded as a competent potter, painter and calligrapher. There exist a small number of exquisite pieces without reign marks carrying Tang Ying's trademark seals and signature. These rare masterpieces are apparently designed by him with exceptional quality, decorated with Tang's painting and inscribed with his poems. The current cup must be one of the last pieces made under his supervision before he retired from office in 1756. On one side at the end of the poem with two red seals reading Han and Mo, 'brush' and 'ink', while the other side on the upper right corner a seal reading Pianyue, crescent moon, followed by the poem, terminated with the cyclical date Yihai, corresponding to 1755, and ending with two iron-red seals reading Tao zhu, which was a pseudonym used by Tang Ying. All these seals are recorded as those used by Tang Ying in the Special Issue Commemorating the Tercentenary of Tang Ying's Birth, Jingdezhen Taoci, 1982, no. 2.

    A brushpot in the collection of the Art Museum, Chinese University of Hong Kong, decorated in sepia enamel with a dragon, inscribed in the same calligraphy with a poem signed by Tang Ying and with the same seal Pianyue, is illustrated by P. Lam, op. cit., 1998-9, p. 69, figs. 5 and 6. A famille rose vase from the collection of Paul and Helen Bernat, sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 15 November 1988, lot 52, and again at Christie's Hong Kong, 29 April 2001, lot 516, also bears an inscription by Tang Ying, followed by the seals Han Mo.

    Provenance

    Previously sold:
    Sotheby's Hong Kong, 22 May 1979, lot 239
    Sotheby's Hong Kong, 3 May 1994, lot 213
    Sotheby's Hong Kong, 30 October 2002, lot 217
    Christie's Hong Kong, 1 November 2004, lot 896


    Pre-Lot Text

    THE PROPERTY OF A FAR EASTERN GENTLEMAN


    Literature

    Sotheby's Thirty Years in Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2003, p. 314, pl. 355