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    Sale 7581

    Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Including Export Art

    13 May 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 182

    A VERY RARE BLUE AND WHITE MOONFLASK

    15TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A VERY RARE BLUE AND WHITE MOONFLASK
    15TH CENTURY
    The flattened spherical body freely painted with a leafy lotus meander issuing a stylised flower-head at each of the four sides below a foliate collar around the slender cylindrical neck decorated with flower sprays and flanked by similarly decorated scroll handles, a band of lotus at the base below a triple line
    12 in. (30.5 cm.) high


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    A small number of 15th century moon flasks are preserved in international collections, and it is noticeable that the style of their decoration varies considerably. On the one hand the flask in the Shanghai Museum has a bold design of camellias (illustrated by Wang Qingzheng in Underglaze Blue and Red, Colour pl. 46, and p. 237), while the flask in the Topkapi Saray Museum, Istanbul, has dancing figures (illustrated in Sekai toji Zenshu - 14 - Ming, Shogakukan, Tokyo, 1976, p. 21, colour pl. 14). The flask in the Percival David Foundation, in contrast, has a bird and flower design which has close affinity to court painting (illustrated by Rosemary Scott in Elegant Form and Harmonious Decoration - Four Dynasties of Jingdezhen Porcelain, Percival David Foundation, London, 1992, p. 42, no. 29), while another from the collection of Mrs. Alfred Clark is decorated with fruiting sprays and waves (illustrated by Sir Harry Garner in Oriental Blue and White, Faber and Faber, London, 1954 , pl. 30A).

    The form and construction of the current moonflask is consistent with manufacture in the early 15th century. The body has been made in two sections and luted horizontally. The neck is slender and flares slightly towards the mouth, and the handles are relatively flat and well-balanced. The floral decoration is beautifully painted using fine outlines and rich blue interior colour. Although the floral scroll appears to depict the stylized, so-called Indian lotus, it is in an unusual form. An additional tri-lobed petal appears at the top of the flower, three different leaf forms emanate from the same stem, a shell- or tear-shaped element crossed the junction of leaf to stem in some places and a triple tri-lobed element can be seen where the stem bifurcates. In addition the stem widens just below this latter element, and under the flower head. Among published fifteenth century blue and white porcelains, the floral scroll which has the greatest number of similar elements is on a footed flask that is in the Palace Museum, Beijing (illustrated in Ming chu qinghua ci - Gugong bowuyuan cang, vol. 2, Forbidden City Publishing, Beijing, 2002, pp. 72-3, no. 35). The floral scroll on the Beijing flask, however, is a mixed floral scroll, which incorporated the stylized lotus among other flowers, and the stems are drawn with a single line.

    The use of fine lines and internal washes is a feature of the mature Chenghua porcelain style, and the stylized lotus was one of the designs that appeared on the famous 'palace bowls'. An example in the collection of the British Museum is illustrated by J. Harrison-Hall in Ming Ceramics in the British Museum, British Museum Press, London, 2001, p. 164, no. 6:5). The stem of the scroll on this bowl widens as it joins the flower, but the rest of the scroll is drawn in a single line. Interestingly many of the features of the current flask's scroll appear on a mixed floral scroll in Ming-style on a Yongzheng vase in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing (illustrated in Kangxi. Yongzheng. Qianlong - Qing Porcelain from the Palace Museum Collection, Forbidden City Publishing Woods Publishing, Hong Kong, 1989, p. 174, no. 3). However the scrolling stems on this vessel are also drawn in a single line.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Provenance

    Believed to have been collected in 1860 from the Summer Palace, Beijing, Henry Brougham, later Lord Loch of Drylaw, Aide de camp to the British Plenipotentiary, Lord Elgin, and by descent to the present owner


    Saleroom Notice

    Please note the restoration of this lot was redone subsequent to photography, and is sold as viewed, not as illustrated.


    Pre-Lot Text

    THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN