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AN EXTREMELY RARE IMPERIAL YANGCAI PUCE, BLUE, AND BLACK-ENAMELLED ‘DRAGON AND PHOENIX’SGRAFFITO PINK-GROUND TEA BOWL AND COVER
AN EXTREMELY RARE IMPERIAL YANGCAI PUCE, BLUE, AND BLACK-ENAMELLED ‘DRAGON AND PHOENIX’SGRAFFITO PINK-GROUND TEA BOWL AND COVER
AN EXTREMELY RARE IMPERIAL YANGCAI PUCE, BLUE, AND BLACK-ENAMELLED ‘DRAGON AND PHOENIX’SGRAFFITO PINK-GROUND TEA BOWL AND COVER
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AN EXTREMELY RARE IMPERIAL YANGCAI PUCE, BLUE, AND BLACK-ENAMELLED ‘DRAGON AND PHOENIX’SGRAFFITO PINK-GROUND TEA BOWL AND COVER
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DRAGONS FROM THE EMPIRE - IMPERIAL CERAMICS FROM THE YIDETANG COLLECTION
AN EXTREMELY RARE IMPERIAL YANGCAI PUCE, BLUE, AND BLACK-ENAMELLED ‘DRAGON AND PHOENIX’SGRAFFITO PINK-GROUND TEA BOWL AND COVER

QIANLONG SIX-CHARACTER SEAL MARKS IN IRON RED AND OF THE PERIOD (1736-1795)

Details
AN EXTREMELY RARE IMPERIAL YANGCAI PUCE, BLUE, AND BLACK-ENAMELLED ‘DRAGON AND PHOENIX’SGRAFFITO PINK-GROUND TEA BOWL AND COVER
QIANLONG SIX-CHARACTER SEAL MARKS IN IRON RED AND OF THE PERIOD (1736-1795)
The bowl is finely enamelled in puce enamel with a dragon and phoenix in flight with eyes picked out in black amid blue-enamelled clouds above a band of conjoined ruyi heads and a band of dots around the foot, against a pale pink-enamelled sgraffito ground incised with feathery scrolls. The cover is similarly decorated. The top of the cover and the base of the bowl are inscribed with the iron-red reign marks reserved on a turquoise enamel. The interiors are covered with a transparent glaze.
4 in. (10.2 cm.) diam., box
Provenance
Sold at Sotheby’s New York, 23-24 April 1975, lot 342
Sold at Sotheby’s New York, 16 September 2008, lot 125

Brought to you by

Marco Almeida (安偉達)
Marco Almeida (安偉達) SVP, Senior International Specialist, Head of Department

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Lot Essay

This exquisite tea bowl and cover is a masterpiece of the 18th-century imperial kilns at Jingdezhen. It is a successful combination of colour, composition and texture on a three-dimensional space. The making of this bowl and cover was an especially difficult one that required the utmost finesse and precision. After the initial firing, the bowl and cover were enamelled in pale pink and then exquisitely painted with a pair of dragon and phoenix in puce enamel, with clouds and other secondary elements in blue enamel. Of special note is the pale pink-enamelled ground, which was finely incised with a feathery scroll in a design known as jinshang tianhua, ‘flower brocade’, which did not appear on porcelain prior to the Qianlong reign, and was particularly effective in creating a more textured surface and a more layered effect conveying a sense of depth.

There are two versions of this ‘flower brocade’, applied to the two most esteemed types of porcelains made for the Qianlong court falangcai and yangcai. In one group the delicate scroll or lattice on the background enamel was painted, while in the other the design was incised into the background enamel. The current bowl and cover belongs to the latter group, yet distinguishes itself from other examples in this group by having the scroll design incised into the background enamel after, as opposed to before, the enamelled design on top.

The painting of the puce-enamelled dragon and phoenix is exceptionally fine and is comparable in quality and style to the painting of the phoenix found on the pink-enamelled blue and white moonflask from the Shorenstein Collection, sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 1 December 2010, lot 2968 (fig. 1).

No other tea bowl and cover with the same intricate design and colour combination appears to have been published. Similar examples are found with iron-red decoration reserved on a white-enamelled sgraffito ground, such as a tea bowl and cover in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Kangxi Yongzheng QianlongQing Porcelain from the Palace Museum Collection, Hong Kong, 1995, p. 332, no. 13, opposite to a similarly decorated cup and cup stand, see ibid., p. 333, no. 14; another tea bowl and cover in the Nanjing Museum, illustrated in Treasures in the Royalty: The Official Kiln Porcelain of the Chinese Qing Dynasty, Nanjing, 2003, p. 276; one from the Collections of Mrs. Henry J. Bernheim, and The Met Museum, sold at Christie’s New York, 15 September 2016, lot 967 (fig. 2); and a pair of cups in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, illustrated in Special Exhibition of Kang-hsi, Yung-cheng and Chieng-lung Porcelain Ware from the Ching Dynasty, Taipei, 1986, p. 154, no. 128.

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