circa 1670, Collection of Julia and John Curtis, early Kangxi period, Romance of the Western Chamber, Ten Choice Selections of Song Medleys Elegantly Illustrated, underglaze-blue and copper-red-decorated, Woodblock illustration, Xiuxiang Gelin Shicui
A large underglaze-blue and copper-red-decorated dish, Early Kangxi period, circa 1670. Estimate $10,000 – $15,000. Photo Christie’s Image Ltd 2015
The dish is decorated on the interior with a scene from the Romance of the Western Chamber, depicting Yingying’s servant Hongniang kneeling before Yingying’s mother and an attendant in a curtained pavilion. An inscription referring to the scene appears on the wall behind the mother. The dish is supported on an unglazed channeled foot. 13 1/8 in. (33.2 cm.) diam. Lot 3589 – Price Realized $62,500
Provenance: S. Marchant & Son, Ltd., London, 1986.
Collection of Julia and John Curtis.
Literature: Julia B. Curtis, ‘Decorative Schemes for New Markets: The Origins and Use of Narrative Themes on 17th-Century Chinese Porcelain’, International Ceramics Fair & Seminar, London, 1997, p. 23, fig. 10.
Notes: In this scene, which is known as ‘Hongniang in the Dock’, Yingying’s maid Hongniang is shown being interrogated and rebuked by Yingying’s mother regarding her daughter’s relationship with Zhang Sheng. The text behind the seated mother reflects Hongniang’s view and reads rather bluntly: ‘Why persist in stopping them? Daughters and dead fish are not items to be retained’. A differently composed scene from the Xixiang ji depicting a tense encounter between Yingying’s mother and Hongniang decorates the Yuan dynasty meiping in the Victoria and Albert Museum, but the scene on the Curtis dish was almost certainly inspired by an illustration in the 1659 woodblock printed edition of the tale. (fig.1)
Fig. 1: Woodblock illustration to Xiuxiang Gelin Shicui (Ten Choice Selections of Song Medleys Elegantly Illustrated), 1659.
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