A cloisonné enamel bowl

16th-17th century

The shallow bowl with rounded side supported on a short foot is decorated to the centre with a scholar standing atop a carp leaping from waves above four smaller carps emerging from the water, all below colourful clouds. The cavetto is decorated with flower heads amidst scrolling foliage against a white ground, the exterior similarly decorated against a blue ground. The flat base is decorated with stylised clouds on a dark green ground.

14.8 cm diameter

 

Provenance:

Formerly in the Catharina Collection of Chinese and Japanese Cloisonné

The Catharina collection was formed prior to the 1990s by a devoted Dutch collector who focused on Chinese late Ming to Qing dynasty cloisonné and Japanese Meiji-period cloisonné. The collection was exhibited in 1992 at the Museum Het Princessehof in Leeuwarden and afterwards at the Koninklijk Museum van Kunst en Geschiedenis in Brussels.

The motif of a carp, liyu, leaping the dragon gate, longmen, and transforming into a dragon is often found on objects destined for the scholar’s desk. It implies a wish for success in the civil service examinations, yutiao longmen, “May you pass the civil service examination and become a high official”. A similar scene on a 17th century porcelain basin, where a boy (the future graduate) is depicted riding the back of a carp turning into a dragon, is illustrated by Curtis.

 


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