A large wucai brush pot, Transitional period, circa 1650-1660. Estimate $30,000 – $40,000. Price Realized $185,000. Photo Christie’s Image Ltd 2015
The cylindrical brush pot is decorated on the exterior with a pheasant perched on a large blue rock, with large flowering tree peony branches and crab apple blossoms appearing from behind further rocks. On the other side two yellow-breasted birds with green wings flutter above a blue rock surrounded by bamboo and pine branches. The flat base is unglazed. 8 in. (20.3 cm.) diam. Lot 3542
Provenance: Bluett & Sons, Ltd., London, 1987.
Collection of Julia and John Curtis.
Literature: Michael Butler, Julia B. Curtis and Stephen Little, Shunzhi Porcelain: Treasures from an Unknown Reign, 1644-1661, Alexandria, 2002, pp.118-119, no. 18.
Exhibited: Honolulu Academy of Arts, Honolulu, Hawaii, Shunzhi Porcelain: Treasures from an Unknown Reign, 1644-1661, 2 May – 8 September 2002.
The Trammell & Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art, Dallas, Texas, Shunzhi Porcelain: Treasures from an Unknown Reign, 1644-1661, 3 October 2002 – 5 January 2003.
University of Virginia Art Museum, Charlottesville, Virginia, Shunzhi Porcelain: Treasures from an Unknown Reign, 1644-1661, 25 January – 23 March 2003.
Notes: As noted by Dr. Julia Curtis in the above exhibition catalogue, “The tree peony is perhaps the most popular flower used to decorate Qing porcelain and is know as the “flower of riches and honor,” fugui hua; it is an emblem of spring. The crab apple, haitang, when depicted with the tree peony and the white magnolia, yulan, forms a rebus for yu tang fu gui, or “Wealth and rank in the Jade Hall.” “Jade Hall” is an allusion to the Hanlin academy, the most prestigious of China’s intellectual institutions in the Ming and early Qing dynasties.” (Michael Butler, Julia B. Curtis and Stephen Little, Shunzhi Porcelain: Treasures from an Unknown Reign, 1644-1661, Alexandria, VA, 2002, p. 119). The golden-tailed pheasant was an emblem of an official in the imperial civil service, and was embroidered on rank badges of civil officials in the Ming and Qing courts. (ibid.)
The imagery of a pheasant perched on a rock became a popular decorative motif in the 17th century and early 18th century. For a similarly decorated wucai gu-form vase dating to the Shunzhi period in the Shanghai Museum, painted on the top register with a golden pheasant perched on a blue rock amidst tree peony, see Chen Runmin, Selected Chinese Ceramics from the Palace Museum (Volume 1): Blue and White Ceramics in Shunzhi and Kangxi Periods (Qing Shunzhi Kangxi chao qing hua ci), Beijing, 2005, p. 167, no. 50.
CHRISTIE’S. AN ERA OF INSPIRATION: 17TH-CENTURY CHINESE PORCELAINS FROM THE COLLECTION OF JULIA AND JOHN CURTIS, 16 March 2015,New York, Rockefeller Plaza