Blue and White Porcelain Plate (Crossing of the Sea)
Edition of 10
48 x 48 x 8.5 cm (19 x 19 x 3 1/4 in)
Blue and White Porcelain Plate (Crossing of the Sea), 2017 is from an important series of works in which the decorative motifs typical of classical Chinese porcelain have been replaced with imagery derived from Ai’s personal experience with the refugee crisis.
Late Ming dynasty
Late 16th-early 17th century
Diameter: 36.5 cm. (14 3/8 in.)
Height: 17.0 cm. (6 3/4 in.)
Inscribed wooden box
Formerly in the Sekido collection
Mayuyama (Ryusendo), Tokyo
Kaikodo Journal XXVII, Spring 2011, no. 19.
Mammoth, monumental, colossal, enormous....words go only so far. Seeing this late-Ming dynasty bowl in real life is almost the only way to be dazzled by its tremendous size. The massive yet surprisingly light-weight bowl was perfectly potted and fired, painted in underglaze cobalt—a watery brilliant blue in the interior ranging to more subtle tones on the exterior, all beneath a bright, clear glaze, the composition arranged in panels enclosing botanical and geometric motifs combined with Buddhist emblems and the bottom interior roundel with riverine lotus and geese, the piece perfectly preserved, when tapped ringing like a sonorous bell. Its technical, physical and decorative features are clear manifestations of the Chinese export porcelain known in the west as kraak, the name memorializing the caracca, Portuguese sailing ships that contributed to international maritime trade, especially from the 16th to the early 17th century
The kraak-ware bowls gracing European porcelain cabinets and those retrieved from shipwrecks were usually more modest in size, while grandiose bowls like the present have appeared in Dutch still-life paintings corresponding to the latest Ming-dynasty reign era, these displaying European influence in the décor and a later phase of kraak style, whereas the present bowl sports purely Chinese subjects and motifs indicative of an earlier phase.
Historically, large-size Chinese ceramics were amassed primarily in wealthy households and princely palaces of the Middle East where their sizes accommodated communal dining practices; in fact, a number of giant bowls in the Topkapi Saray in Istanbul are closely related to the present. We might attribute the remarkable condition of our bowl, however, to its long residence in Japan. An inscription written in ink on the lid of its old Japanese box is a moving tribute to the piece, which is referred to as a fuyo-de bowl, the Japanese name for kraak wares, in reference to their florid style. The inscription reads: “My predecessor treasured this; and we should treasure it even more so,” signed with the surname “Sekido,” the small label to the far left of the inscription with the personal name “Shōka-ken.” Sekido Shōka-ken was a wealthy merchant in Nagoya, known also as a poet and collector, born in 1824 and died in 1900. Although it isn’t clear when the bowl entered Japan nor where it came from or how long it had been in the Sekido family’s hands, its inclusion in an exhibition at the Tekisui Museum in Ashiya suggests an appreciation in Japan down to modern times.
Hongzhi - Zhengde, 15th - 16th c. China
A small food bowl with straight foot and flared mouth rim decorated with Middle Eastern style scrolling Ruyi with alternating pendant and ingot and coin patterns. on the inside and outside walls, with lotus petal design enclosed by double circles in the center. The underfoot is glazed in white.
This type of bowl, with Islamic-style decoration, was often made for export to Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern markets during the 15th - 16th centuries.
It is in excellent condition with a small original firing flaw to the mouth-rim, minute kiln specks and a small glaze crawl in the interior. Some small kiln grit to the under- foot.
A larger bowl, dated Hongzhi - Zhengdu Dynasties, with similar interior design is illustrated in “Chinese and Vietnamese Blue and White Wares Found in the Philippines”, Makati City Phillipines, 1997. pg. 158-159
Private American Collection purchased at Sotheby’s Park Bernet c. 1970’s.
Blue Bayou 9
Toned gelatin silver print, 2016 (printed in 2021)
32 x 40 in. Artist’s proof
$6,500 (frame $800)
Through long exposures with a classic 8 x 10 large-format camera, Yojiro Imasaka captured expansive space, immersive light, and crisp details he witnessed in bayou, Louisiana’s legendary wetlands. Before taking a picture, Imasaka spends a lot of time thinking about what he is looking at, and later in the darkroom he asks himself “What did I see?” while developing film and making prints. As a result of this deep thought, Imasaka added deep blue tone, distinctive of the well-known cyanotype, to a black and white print with carefully formulated chemical solutions. Blue Bayou 9, one of the seventeen images in the 2016 Blue Bayou series represents the artist’s delicate and hypnotic landscapes. Seeing it slows down an increasingly fast-paced life. In the bottom half of Blue Bayou 9, the water surface varying from milky white to icy blue softly reflects everything in this world; creating an illusion of natural beauty in just two colors’ nuanced tonality reminiscent of solemn blue-and-white porcelain.
In the exhibition catalog essay, art critic Edward M. Gómez noted that “Imasaka’s Blue Bayou images offer an inescapable evocation of natural forces and the passage of time — in gently flowing water and shifting light caught in long exposures, and in lush vegetation in dramatic detail. Bearing witness to the impulse of a sensitive observer whose art resides in the hush of studious, lingering pauses, like that spirit, they reaffirm life.”
The United States Series: Niagara Falls (Beikoku shirizu: Naiagura bakufu)
signed in sumi ink Yoshida with artist's seal Hiroshi, with red jizuri (self-printed) seal on left margin, followed by the date Taisho juyonen saku (made in Taisho 14 ), followed by the Japanese title, Naiagura bakufu, titled and signed in penciled English on the bottom margin, Niagara Falls, Hiroshi Yoshida
dai oban yoko-e 11 1/8 by 16 in., 28.1 by 40.5 cm
In 1924 Yoshida was involved with a traveling exhibition of Japanese paintings and prints in America which was organized to support the artistic community in Tokyo struggling in the aftermath of the Great Kanto Earthquake that devasted most of the city on September 1st in the previous year. Upon his return to Japan in January of 1925, Yoshida established his own printing studio and began production woodblock prints, starting with a series based on compositions from the United States. Already an accomplished and versatile painter, Yoshida excelled at exploring the variations and gradations of color that could be achieved in the woodblock print format, which is why comparing examples of the same print often reveals subtle differences on the way the blocks were handled. On this impression of Niagara Falls, Yoshida contrasts layers of light and dark blue swirls of water in the foreground against the soft pink mist drifting upwards towards tufts of pale cotton candy pink and lavender clouds.
Tadao Ogura, Yoshida Hiroshi zenhangashu (The Complete Woodblock Prints of Hiroshi Yoshida), Abe Shuppan, Tokyo, 1987, p. 40, no. 12
Carolyn Putney, et al., Fresh Impressions: Early Modern Japanese Prints, Toledo Museum of Art, 2013, pp. 244-245, cat. 224
Chenghua Six-Character Mark, Kangxi Period
Of globular form and with short neck and everted rim; well decorated in underglaze blue to show stalks of bamboo, a plum tree with twisted trunk and a wide weeping pine below a distant winter sun
Height 7 ¾ inches
Nepal, 18th century
Opaque watercolor heightened with gold on paper Image: 8 x 11 3/4 in. (20.3 x 29.8 cm.)
Doris Wiener Gallery, inventory no. P1548 (label on frame).
The present painting, though lacking inscriptions, seems to illustrate a portion of the Ramayana, as the three figures on the right side of the composition resemble the exiled triad at the center of the Indian epic: Krishna’s avatar Rama, his betrothed, Sita, and his brother Lakshmana. The seven sages depicted, however, may very well be the saptarishi or celestial brothers born from Brahma.
While the subject-matter is difficult to elaborate upon, the present is discernibly Nepalese, particularly in palette. The prominent bright reds and blues and heightening with gold closely resemble the pigments used in a well known dispersed eighteenth-century Nepalese Bhagavata Purana series executed in a large format of which two folios reside in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (acc. 2019.64). The crown and ornamentation style, however, very closely resemble the style of those in a circa-1700 painting from Bilaspur depicting only Sita, Rama, and Lakshmana on a red ground in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (acc. M.87.278.10). Thus, the influence of Indian miniature painting is also evident in this unusual Nepalese illumination of a Hindu epic.
H5.5” x W4” x L4”; Lid diameter: 3.5”
With signed wood box
The Living National Treasure Shimizu Uichi 清水 卯一 (1926-2004) masterfully incorporated Chinese-inspired techniques to this ceramic incense burner, which showcases a crackled surfacescape upon a generously applied Japanese celadon glaze. Having studied under Living National Treasure Ishiguro Munemaro (1989-1968), an early practitioner of firing Chinese-style ceramics, Shimizu’s interest in craquelure celadon took root at Horai Kiln, where he experimented with glazes inspired by Chinese Guan-ware and forms inspired by Han Dynasty bronzes, both expertly epitomized in this incense burner.
In Japan, the color gradations of Guan-ware has been long entangled with the bluish white seihakuji porcelain (青白磁). This historical lineage of celadon ware is referenced in this piece, where Shimizu’s transparent glaze takes on an icy, blue-white color. While this textured glaze, which showcases small cracks on a jade-like veneer, references rare Guan pottery, the three-footed silhouette of the object highlights a mountainscape at its summit. The nodes on the lid creates an outline inspired by mountainous landscapes often evoked in Shimizu’s other iron-glazed ceramic works.
Metaphors of my terrain
Acrylic on canvas
91 cm x 201 cm
Pushkale articulates his fascination with geology, archaeology and epigraphy in compelling, enigmatic images. Are these fossils or potsherds? Or rock formations or the outlines of lost architectures, long hidden in the earth and revealed by infrared photography?
Persia, probably Kirman, mid-seventeenth century
Of rimless form standing on a low foot-ring, painted in blue and white on a cream slip incised with a fish-scale design forming four pointed lobes, the central lozenge with projecting two-part pointed arches fringed in leaves alternating with ogee medallions filled with palmettes and foliage; the exterior sides cobalt, a double band inside the foot-ring enclosing a pseudo-Chinese character mark
41.5 cm., 16 1/8 in. diameter; 8 cm., 3 1/8 in. height
In Yolande Crowe’s comprehensive survey of the Victoria & Albert Museum’s extensive collection of Safavid pottery, she places this type of bowl in the ‘Floral and Incised’ group dated to the reign of Shah Abbas II (1642-66), when the arts of the Safavid royal court were at their zenith. She describes this group as “possibly the most sophisticated group of Persian ceramics of Safavid times” (Y. Crowe, Persia and China: Safavid Blue and White Ceramics in the Victoria & Albert Museum 1501-1738, La Borie, 2002, p. 124)
Dr. Crowe further suggests that this style may be derived from incised ceramics of the Yongle period (1403-24). The plain coloured glaze of the exterior is a feature of this style and appears on a group of related bowls in the V&A, see Crowe, pp. 124-127, nos. 166-176, a number of which also feature identical diminutive foliate motifs filling the ogee medallions.
Another dish of this type is in the Louvre, Paris, see Istanbul, Isfahan, Delhi: Three Capital of Islamic Art: Masterpieces from the Louvre Collection, Paris, 2008, p. 223, no. 98
Christie’s, London, 6 October 2011, lot 171
Private collection, London
Illustration to the Rasikapriya
Attributed to Sajnu, a Master of the Second Generation after Nainsukh
Guler or Mandi, Punjab Hills, India, circa 1810.
Opaque watercolour and gold on paper.
Dimensions: 35 x 27 cm
As a supreme god, Krishna embodies love and compassion as well as symbolizing the union of divine and human love. From Vishnu he inherits his protective nature, taking on the role of Vishnu’s avatar to preserve and protect the world from the threats of chaos, evil and destruction. He is also the god of music and art, a divine aesthete who emanates harmony and tenderness.
When artists visualised love poems like the Rasikapriya, they envisioned the blue god Krishna and Radha in the role of the Nayak and Nayika archetypes of lovers. The venerated relationship between the divine hero and his beloved, seen by many as a creative expression of spiritual devotion, became the theme of many paintings that portray the two lovers either ecstatic in their union or pining in separation. Pahari artists, specifically, developed a highly refined visual language that expressed the romance of such lyrics into painting.
Here the artist has captured Krishna and Radha at the break of day, gazing into each other’s eyes and creating what has been called the “supreme moment of romance”. Even though they no longer embrace, Radha sits up to leave but is clearly still lost in her lover and unable to break away. The orange in the sky hints at dawn and the world around them is stirring to life, but the bejewelled Radha and Krishna are still surrounded by remnants of their night together: shattered shards of glass bangles lie scattered on the bed, and a broken flower garland remains loosely wrapped around Krishna’s body, depicted in a pale shade of blue.
As the world around them slowly springs into action, observed in the delicate detail of birds searching for food on the lawn and attendants selecting flowers from the garden wall beyond, the lovers are cocooned in an atmosphere of diving ecstasy, their eyes exchanging vows and their bodies the promise of a future reunion. Within their private domain, all is white and brimming with the promise of rebirth; the outside world is first to fill with colour and the more complicated matters of daily life.
The figures represent idealized beauty —the dark and handsome Krishna with the fair skinned Radha, wrapped in the same colour as the light of the rising sun in the horizon. Both faces are as delicate as they are expressive, and Krishna’s gentle, content smile is just one of the many exquisite details of this sumptuous painting. Each of the surfaces – the translucent fabrics on the bodies, the floral borders on the bedsheet, the red carpet, and the architectural features such as the pillars and niches – have all been intricately ornamented to emphasize the beauty of the figures. The floral decoration on the outer borders of the work indicates a certain Western influence, which is not surprising given that some of the Pahari patrons also collected prints from Europe.
This painting is attributed to the master artist Sajnu, and is closely related to the work of the other artists from the legendary Manaku-Nainsukh family of Guler, providing testament to the fact that although artists moved geographically and absorbed external influences, their style remained closely tied to that of their family.
A painting of a solitary woman in a similar composition has been published by W.G. Archer and was part of his personal collection (Archer, 1976. No. 45, pp 82-83).
R. E. Lewis, California, 1970s.
Private West Coast Collection, USA.
Archer, W. G. Visions of Courtly India: The Archer Collection of Pahari Miniatures. London: Sotheby Parke Bernet Publications, 1976.
Bahadur, K. P. The Rasikapriya of Keshavadasa. Delhi: Motilal Banarasidass, 1972.
Randhawa, M. S. Kangra Paintings on Love. Delhi: National Museum, 1962.
Brush-rubbed, neriage (marbleized) globular vessel
8 1/2 x 10 1/8 in.
This striped, bold and inventive work is a classic vessel by the Living National Treasure, Matsui Kōsei (1927-2003), who was the seminal figure in the revival of neriage (marbleized clay). This signature, blue and white gradated, brush-rubbed, neriage (marbleized) globular stoneware vessel dates to his middle period, circa 1982. (8 1/2 x 10 1/8 in.).
A Ningxia rug, wool pile on a cotton foundation with a field design of stylised dragon roundels with a central roundel of four confronted dragons and three, equally spaced, individual dragon roundels and four corner single dragon spandrels within a double blue line border and a lattice type wan design within a single line border and a blue edge.
Ningxia, Western China, first half of the 19th century.
7 ft 1/4 in x 4ft 4 1/4 in (214 x 133 cm)
Sandra Whitman, San Francisco.
Ian and Susan Wilson, San Francisco.
On loan to the Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst, Köln (2003 -2018)
Kinkizan on Enoshima Island in Sagami Province (Sōshū Enoshima Kinkizan)
Color woodblock print: aiban yoko-e uchiwa-e, 8⅞ x 11½ in. (22.5 x 29.2 cm)
Series: untitled series of famous places in Sagami Province
Signed: Hiroshige ga
Censor’s seal: aratame (certified) and date sealed 2/1855
Publisher: Maruya Jinpachi
This series of fan prints depicts landscapes in and around Sagami Province, in what is now the western part of the modern Kanagawa Prefecture. Five prints are known. All are monochromatic images expertly printed in shades of blue (aizuri-e) with touches of purple along the horizon line and with title and signature cartouches in red.
In this view of the sacred island of Enoshima, we are standing on the Seven-league Beach, which stretches from southwest Kamakura to the cliffs facing the island. We look south to Suruga Bay and the island just offshore. The gateway marks the beginning of the approach to the shrine/temple complex just visible among the trees in the upper part of the island. The Benten Shrine, for which the island was famous, cannot be seen. The Kinkizan of the title is part of the Buddhist name of what was, until the Meiji era, a combined Buddhist and Shintō religious establishment.
Turkey (Ottoman empire)
197mm (7 3/4 inches)
This remarkable knife brilliantly exemplifies the artistry so often applied to exceptional pieces of arms and armour, its scabbard proficiently decorated throughout with roundels in a dazzling array of colours and patterns.
The hilt is formed of a faceted blue glass, while the blade of steel exhibits faux-watering and is inset with beads of coral at three equidistant slots just beneath the spine. The surface of the blade has also been etched over the greater part of its length with an inscription on one face with a part of the Nada ‘Ali quatrain and on the other with “… Muluk (?) sultan malik tahir (?)” (“… of Kings (?), Sultan Malik Tahir (?)”) among vine tendrils that exhibit remnants of the original gilding. Gilt stellar motifs also line the spine of the blade.
The ivory scabbard is inset with a generous array of khatamkari roundels depicting celestial motifs with gems, mother-of-pearl and various metals. Of particular splendour are the ebony tesserae, which are overlaid with pointed stars in gold, some of the larger examples decorated at their centres with an inset turquoise or gold concentric circles. The craftsman has expended great efforts to ensure almost no space is left unfilled, inviting us to inspect the scabbard’s surface as we might survey a busy night-sky. It is interesting to note, too, that the central roundel of the front face is decorated on a shimmering white ground in mother-of-pearl, whilst that on the reverse is black (ebony), as if the front and reverse of the scabbard signified the day and night skies respectively. The scabbard’s gilt-silver collar and chape are punched and chased to depict stylised leaves and roundels in imitation of the scabbard’s central surface, and are further inset with small turquoises as well as coloured gem stones, the chape terminating in a cross-hatched acorn finial.
A miniature sword in the Walters Art Museum (Accession No.51.79) exhibits a similar sequence of insets along the back-edge of its blade.
UK art market
Blue and White Ohi Ceremonial Vessel “Sonsu"
h. 8 1/2 x w. 13 1/2 x d. 6 1/4 in. (21.6 x 34.4 x 15.8 cm)
Ohi Toshio Chozaemon XI carries a family legacy of more than 300 years, interpreting traditional techniques through a contemporary lens. He has developed his own perspective and understanding on his family’s heritage, applying a contemporary twist to the signature amber color of Ohi ceramics. By incorporating the color of blue and white, Ohi developed the family’s new tradition.
Ohi Toshio Chozaemon XI (b. 1958) inherited an artistic tradition that dates back to 1666, when the first Ohi-ware potter began crafting ceramic works near Kanazawa for tea ceremonies. Toshio is the 11th generation of this historic lineage. He shows the characteristically lustrous effects of Ohi-ware in his bowls and complementary items for the Japanese tea ceremony—a vast range of works both utilitarian and artistic. Angular in shape, soft in color, and balancing on the narrowest of feet, his vessels imbue their spaces with grace, surprise, and beauty. In recent years, Toshio’s work has embraced traditional characteristics of Ohi-ware while subtly asserting his individual character and creative stamp. His sharp forms and nuanced colors are the result of both the long Ohi-ware tradition and his own inspirational journeys all over the world. His works are currently held in the public collections of museums like the LACMA (USA), Musée Ariana (Geneva, Switzerland) and Sévres Ceramics Museum (France).
Ko-sometsuke ware, Jingdezhen kilns, Jiangxi province, China
Ming dynasty, 17th century
Porcelain decorated with underglaze cobalt blue
D 20.3 x H 26.4 cm
This fresh water jar (mizusashi) with handle belongs to a group of Chinese porcelains, which were products of a rare anomaly in the relations between China and Japan during the seventeenth century. Known in Japan as Ko-sometsuke (Ko meaning “old”, and sometsuke meaning “underglaze cobalt-blue decorated wares”), this group of Chinese ceramics cannot readily be found in China today, except among objects recovered through the underwater salvaging of shipwrecked vessels. However, a large number of Ko-sometsuke pieces have survived in Japan, where they were received as Chinese export wares and treasured in tea circles, and by connoisseurs who appreciated the special charm of their modest, unpretentious beauty.
The present mizusashi, intended for use in the tea ceremony, imitates a handled water bucket made of wood. The potter copied small details, such as the wooden pegs that would hold the horizontal bar in place on a real bucket, and encircled the body of the vessel with three bands, perhaps made to represent bamboo strips. The horizontal handle bar with decorative curves has a design of floral motifs, and the upright boards supporting it are decorated with abstract designs. The body of the mizusashi is divided into three zones, with each zone marked off by a band. The bottom register is decorated with a design of waves, while the two upper registers show motifs of aquatic plants and birds. The lid, on the other hand, features designs of butterflies and roses.
The present mizusashi is in good condition of production and preservation, except for a few “insect nibbles” (mushikui), small chips in the glaze that frequently occurred in Ko-sometsuke wares when the badly levigated clay shrank more rapidly than the glaze, causing it to flake off along the rims and edges of the vessel. The handle is intact, and the lid is original to the vessel.
The Withered Poplar Blossoms-13 枯楊生華-13
Ink on Paper 紙本水墨
15 3/8 x 11 3/8 in
39 x 29 cm
Peng Kanglong (b. 1962) is a literati-recluse artist who paints in the traditional landscape and flower genres. His major stylistic influences include the 17th century Monk artists Shitao and Kuncan, as well as the Modern landscape master Huang Binghong. Landscape and flower painting are two distinct genres with their own metaphoric languages, painting techniques, representative masters and developmental histories. With the possible exception of Huang Binhong, Peng Kang-long is perhaps the first ink artist to explore the artistic possibilities of integrating these formerly separate genres.
In rendering his flowers, Peng integrates the cunfa or "fine texture strokes" of landscape painting with established shuanggou "outline-and-fill" and mogu "boneless" methods of traditional flower painting. Peng employs his wild cursive texture strokes to render not only the forms of his trees, flowers and grasses but also the light and space in which his subjects live and breath.
When a couple married, it was often the case that the groom had never seen the bride so it became customary for the bride to wear these mirror rings in order to show her face under her veil to the groom for the first time.
Fan Painting of Flowers
Fan painting mounted as a hanging scroll; ink, mineral colors, shell powder and gold on paper with gold leaf
Overall size 46¾ x 19 in. (118.5 x 48 cm)
Image size 13¾ x 13¼ in. (35.2 x 33.7 cm)
Rich mineral colors, ink, and gofun on gold paper depict a group of colorful blossoms in bloom. The six-petal flowers are the Clematis, an imported plant with origins in central China that were brought into Japan during the mid-17th century where they became greatly popular. Named “Iron wire (tessen)” after their strong vines, the plants became extensively cultured in their new homeland and soon appeared in many colors. Along with the morning glory, they became important subjects for early modern Japanese artists and often appear in paintings, prints, and textile design of the late 17th century onwards.
Flowering in the late spring and early summer, the Clematis became a symbol of the summer - and a perfect image to place on a fan, so that its owner could start fanning him or herself at the first arrival of hot days.
The colors of the fan are applied in a complex manner. For example, a fine under-painting of blue mineral color (crushed lapis lazuli) can be discerned under the oyster shell paste (gofun) of the white petals. The artist carefully constructed the colors so that light traces of blue barely come through the white, adding interest, color, and depth to the image. In a similar way, ink was added under the right-hand blue petals.
The composition, color palette, and the use of the tarashikomi technique clearly mark this work as that of the Rimpa school. The tarashikomi effects can be seen on the ink flowers, where pigments have been dripped into the not-quite dry ink, creating a mottled texture. Ogata Kôrin and his fellow artists created this type of fan, and a number of these works from the eighteenth century are extant. The fans were made of the same shape and same proportions of the present fan and also featured a gold ground.
The front side of the Kôrin fans typically featured figural designs with the seal and signature of the artist. On the back – typically without signatures or seals – were plant and landscape designs of the seasons, featuring bold color designs and striking composition. These simple yet profound compositions were skillfully arranged with a minimum of elements within a small surface. Another interesting feature was the bunching of small details at the very top of the fan, as can be seen in this work and others that have been attributed to Kôrin and his school. A fan with the same ratio and a similar composition (on an autumn theme) can be found in the Gotoh Art Museum in Tokyo. The Gotoh image of maple leaves is also without seal or signature, as Kôrin placed his seals on the other side of the fan, which has now been lost. It is likely that the present fan also stems from the workshop of Ogata Kôrin.
Comes with a fitted kiri-wood storage box
Iran, circa mid 17th century
Two shades of underglaze blue on tin glazed faience
10 ¼ in width, 1 ½ in in height, 26 cm x 4 cm
The application of blue pigment, a compound of cobalt oxide, onto ceramics dates back to the 9th century Islamic Mesopotamia; however its presence on Chinese ceramics were largely unknown until the arrival of the cobalt blue pigment in China from Persia in the early 14th century. Soon after the blue and white porcelains became the preferred ceramic wares at the Yuan court in China and elsewhere at the Ilkhanid courts in Persia. As the production of the blue and white ceramics increased beyond the court’s demand in the Yuan and Ming periods, so did the amount of trade in these wares to western Asia and beyond through the land and sea routes. These wares became highly prized by the Persian rulers who utilized them at the court as well as donated them in large groups to important religious shrines.
The Persian potters were challenged to meet this growing demand for the Chinese blue and white ceramics by the rulers and the elites. Lacking access to porcelain, by application of tin glaze to a stone-paste (faience) body, they were able to create a white background to paint designs in blue pigment. Though at first, most of these designs were imitations of the Ming Kraak ware patterns; the individual decorative elements were adopted and applied with a greater degree of freedom. In the 17th century Persian geometric designs were combined with the traditional Kraak decorative elements creating beautiful hybrids.
This plate painted in two shades of underglaze blue on a white background is in imitation of a Chinese Kraak ware. The well decorated with six lobed medallions containing alternating leafy flower or a fan shape with ribbons, each separated by a dangling tassel. The composition of the central roundel is of two sages or dervishes wearing hats and typical Safavid robes squatting or seated arranged in the center of a rocky landscape dotted with pagodas and thatched huts. The outside is decorated with six panels each containing a leafy peach. The base painted with a pseudo Chinese mark.
A similarly decorated plate is in the Victoria & Albert Museum (2721-1876).
Yolande Crowe, Persia and China: Safavid Blue and White Ceramics in the Victoria and Albert Museum 1501-1738, Geneva, 2002.
Arthur Lane, Later Islamic Pottery, London, 1971.
Breaking Composition #14
kiln-foaming cast glass
16.25 x 16.25 x 15.75 in
Artist Statement: What I want to express in my work is the most dynamic state in which a structure or form can be. As a material, it has been my great fortune to encounter foaming glass, with its uncontrollable expansions and deflation. My works are created by the interaction of glass, tiny bubbles, heat, and gravity.
I combine glass powder with a foaming agent, such as calcium carbonate or copper oxide into a fireproof plaster mold, and then fire it for casting at around 820°C in an electric kiln. The melting glass confines the gas that the additive releases inside, and the mold is filled with foamed glass gradually — like baking bread. I open the door of the kiln to abruptly solidify the foaming glass. Although the piece cools quickly, it retains its shape, but has become a porous lump of glass with strong tensile stresses from forcibly stopping the expansion. I remove the plaster mold and fire the piece again for slumping at around 700°C. The tensile stresses are released, causing shrinking and cracking. The glass collapses under its own weight, and the spaces between the porous parts merge.
I have come to conclude that this transformation is a life cycle. In the natural world, objects are always changing. As transformed materials are exposed to air or heat, they change in appearance or texture at their own pace. However, when compared to other materials, it is said that glass is artificial and does not age. My goal is to create forms that express transformation and the natural properties of glass.
Java, found in Sulawesi
Likely 18th Century
Handspun cotton; resist dyed
21 x 7 in / 53 x 18 cm
An exceptionally rare handspun Proto-Batik with an ancient Kawung pattern, this is an important aesthetic and art historical fragment from an old Japanese collection.
Decorated with the Sanduo (Three Sacred Fruit), finely painted in deep underglaze blue.
Early/ mid-18th century
Height: 7 ¾ inches (19.7 cm.)
Related examples in the Palace Museum, Beijing
Private early 20th century American Collection
Property of the Honorable John D. Rockefeller IV
Ming dynasty, Xuande / Zhengtong period
Of finely potted ovoid form, the full swelling shoulders sweeping to a waisted neck, delicately painted in rich tones of cobalt blue accented with characteristic 'heaping and piling', the body decorated with a composite scroll of stylized lotus, the four loose-petalled blooms with pomegranate-center hearts vividly painted in alternating stages of development on a slender stem wreathed by meandering foliate scrolls, divided by triplets of ovate leaves each enclosing four or five long-stemmed berries, all between overlapping plantain lappets with open central veins extending from the shoulders and base, the neck with an alternating band of prunus blossom florets and sprigs, all enclosed between line borders, with a stepped base
The Rockefeller family collection, and thence by descent.
This vase is extremely rare both in form and design. Only two other examples appear to be recorded, both inscribed with a Xuande (1426-35) reign mark. One is preserved in the National Palace Museum, Taipei (accession no. gu-ci-012450), illustrated in Porcelain of the National Palace Museum: Blue-and-white Ware of the Ming Dynasty, Book II, Part 1, Hong Kong, 1963, pls 2 and 2a, included in the Museum’s Special Exhibition of Selected Hsüan-te Imperial Porcelains of the Ming Dynasty, Taipei, 1998, cat. no. 16. The other was sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 27th April 1993, lot 37.
The unusual shape of these vases is illustrated in Geng Baochang, Ming Qing ciqi jianding / Appraisal of Ming and Qing Porcelains, Hong Kong, 1993, p. 47, fig. 82, no. 15, where it is described as meiping shi guan (‘meiping-style jar’). Representing a variation on the classic meiping shape, vessels of this form with wide neck without a mouth rim are extremely rare among Xuande wares.
The scroll of stylized lotus, with pomegranate centers and long stems issuing from the flowers, appears to be peculiar to the Xuande period and is illustrated in a line drawing op.cit., p. 60, fig. 107, no. 5. The design of pendent leaves at the shoulder and upright ones encircling the foot is also rare to find at that time, as it is more often seen on Chenghua (1465-87) porcelains. Compare two Xuande mark and period vases with a similar design: one of meiping form that was included in the exhibition The Exquisite Chinese Artifacts: Collection of Ching Wan Society, National Museum of History, Taipei, 1995, cat. no. 95, previously sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 20th March 1990, lot 522, and again on 27th May 2009, lot 1802; the other sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 17th January 1989, lot 572, and later in our London rooms, 18th November 1998, lot 865.
Important Chinese Art
Exhibition: September 17-21