A small blue and white bowl

Chongzhen, circa 1635-1644

The bowl is of conical shape, supported on a straight foot and rising to spreading sides slightly flaring towards the rim. The exterior is painted in underglaze blue with a continuous scene of a scholar seated in a rocky landscape beside a bundle of scrolls tied together with a ribbon. Another figure holding a single scroll is approaching from behind stems of bamboo. The inside is decorated with a dense border of scrolls and flowerheads below the rim, repeated around the centre, which is inscribed with a four-character Yongle mark in seal script. The recessed base is left unglazed.

10.4 cm diameter


Christie’s Amsterdam, 18 May 1994, lot 27
Formerly in collection of Robert Suermont
Acquired from Feng-Chun Ma Chinese & Japanese Art, 2006
A Dutch private collection

The present bowl is finely potted from well levigated clay, with the vibrant blue decoration applied on a very white paste. The bowl is in several ways similar to the so-called ‘Red Cliff’ bowls, usually dated Tianqi-Chongzhen, as examples are known bearing Tianqi marks. The dense borders in the interior, the apocryphal Yongle (1403-1424) mark and the broad foot ring with small recessed unglazed base, appear on both types of bowls. However, the painting style, colour of the blue and quality of the porcelain indicate that the present bowl dates from the later part of the Chongzhen period. A very similar bowl is in the Jan Menze van Diepen Foundation, Slochteren; others have appeared at auction.

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