A rare small Ming-style blue and white moonflask, bianhu, 18th century. Sold for HK$ 1,840,000 (€193,210). Photo Bonhams
The flattened circular body delicately painted on each side in a deep, vibrant underglaze blue with a pair of magpies perching on a gnarled curved flowering branch, between rows of stiff ruyi-head lappets at the foot and at the shoulder, the cylindrical neck with two sprigs of bamboo between a pair of curved handles painted with scroll details, the base slightly recessed. 18.2cm (7 1/4in) high
Provenance: T.T. Tsui, Hong Kong (1941-2010)
An Important private collection, sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 27 May 2008, lot 1828
An Asian private collection
Sold in our London rooms on 5 November 2009, lot 173
An American private collection
Published: The Tsui Museum of Art: Chinese Ceramics IV, Qing Dynasty, Hong Kong, 1995, pl.62.
Notes: The prototypes for the present lot are the great blue and white moonflasks from the Yongle period, a particularly fine example of which is currently exhibited in the British Museum and illustrated by R.Krahl and J.Harrison-Hall, Chinese Ceramics: Highlights from the Percival David Collection, London, 2009, p.59-61, no.28. However R.Scott also notes that the shape may originally derive from Syrian glassware, see Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art: A Guide to the Collection, London, 1989, Catalogue, no.61.
Similarly spectacular moonflasks were produced during the early Qing Dynasty: compare an example with a Yongzheng mark and of the period (36.5cm high), illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Blue and White Porcelain with Underglazed Red (III), Hong Kong, 2000, no.97. Another example also with a Yongzheng mark and of the period but decorated on yellow-enamelled ground (36.9cm high), is illustrated by J.Ayers, Chinese Ceramics in the Baur Collection, Vol.2., Geneva, 1999, pp.88-89 col. no.A573. See also a very similar piece (36.5cm high), unmarked but dated to the Yongzheng period, illustrated by J.Thompson, The Alan Chuang Collection of Chinese Porcelain, Hong Kong, 2009, no.34.
It is highly unusual to find a moonflask of such small size and delicacy, but it is interesting to note that the present piece is almost exactly half the size of the Yongzheng examples listed above. Compare another small moonflask (16.8cm high) decorated in blue and white with a dragon in puce enamel, sold in our London rooms, 17 May 2012, lot 347.
BONHAMS. FINE CHINESE CERAMICS AND WORKS OF ART, 27 Nov 2014 14:30 HKT – HONG KONG, ADMIRALTY