Previously sold in Hong Kong, 30 April 1991, lot 87.
A similar example is illustrated in Mayuyama, Seventy Years, vol. I, no. 1079. Another from the Baur Collection is illustrated by Ayers in the Catalogue, vol. II, no. A473. A third was included in the Exhibition of Important Chinese Ceramics from the Robert Chang Collection, Catalogue, no. 50. A pair of similar jue was exhibited in Frankfurt am Main at the Kunstgewerbe Museum in 1923, Chinesische Keramik, Catalogue, nos. 937 and 938.
Saucer-dishes under rich aubergine glazes like the present example occur in small plain form and larger incised versions with dragons. Ayers illustrates an example in Chinese Ceramics, The Koger Collection, no. 144, where the author states that the colour was relatively new, suggesting a difference between it and the comparable tone found on Fahua ceramics of the Ming period.
According to Kerr, Bronzes, Vessel Forms, p. 30, jue were used during the bronze age for heating alcohol over fire; the post-like handles on the rim were originally used to lift the vessel full of warmed liquid away from the heat. While they were often dedicated for temple use as altar vessels, she notes that later ones were probably relatively cheap to buy when they were made of metal. However, it seems likely that porclain ones were always rather more highly appreciated. White porcelain jue were excavated from early Yongle strata in 1982, on the site of the Imperial kilns at Jingdezhen: see the Catalogue of the Exhibition of Imperial Porcelain of the Yongle and Xuande Periods excavated from the site of the Ming Imperial Factory at Jingdezhen, Hong Kong, 1989, p. 116, where it is noted that the first Emperor of the Ming Dynasty, reign title Hongwu, ordered white porcelain jue to be used in sacrificial ceremonies. Another example has been recorded of the early 15th century variety, illustrated by D. Lion-Goldschmidt, Ming Porcelain, pl. 39 and one more, of later Ming (Jiajing period) date. See also Yang Enlin, Chinese Porcelain Decoration in the 17th and 18th Century, 1987 (translation), pl. 92, for another marked Qianlong aubergine-glazed example in the Staatliche Museen, Berlin.