A Wucai bowl

Chongzhen-Shunzhi, circa 1630-1650

The deep bowl with spreading sides and slightly flaring rim is supported on a tapering foot. The exterior is freely painted in underglaze blue, green and yellow enamels and iron-red with a floral composition of blossoming chrysanthemums and orchids. The interior is decorated in the centre with a single flower spray in overglaze enamels. The base is inscribed with a three-character mark Song Shi Zhai in underglaze blue.

11.6 cm diameter


Formerly in the Michael Butler Collection
Formerly in the collection of Richard S. Kilburn
Sold at Christie’s London, 16 June 1986, lot 68 (one of a pair)
Acquired from Feng-Chun Ma Chinese & Japanese Art
Formerly in the collection of Robert Suermont


Kilburn, R. S., Transitional Wares and Their Forerunners, Hong Kong, 1981, pl. 168
Feng-Chun Ma Chinese & Japanese Art, Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, 2017, no. 36

The studio mark song shi zhai may be translated as ‘Pine and Rock Studio’. Pine song, and rock shi, symbolize longevity and were essential for the scholar’s garden architecture. Rocks also stand for reliability and strength, which were highly valued virtues among scholars. Although it has been suggested that the present bowl was made for the Japanese market, the song shi zhai mark, never recorded on wares for Japan, points towards production for the domestic market. 

A similar pair of bowls is published by Marchant and another one is illustrated in Toji Taikei. A Shunzhi rolwagen,made for the domestic market, is painted on the neck with a very similar design to that on the present bowl. A Japanese Arita bowl with related design is in the Ashmolean Museum. 

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