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A blue and white 'boys' box and cover. Mark and period of Wanli

the flat cover of rectangular section with lobed corners, painted in vivid cobalt blue with four boys playing musical instruments in a garden setting, bordered around the sides with panels of dragons on a floral ground, the corners each set with a flower, the box similarly decorated with a dragon on each side, the base inscribed with a six-character mark enclosed within a double-square. 13.5 cm., 5 1/4 in. Estimate 250,000—350,000 HKD

NOTE: Boxes of this rectangular form were possibly made as containers for a gift of food delicacies such as sweetmeats. See a closely related example similarly painted with a scene of boys at play, from the Lauritzen collection illustrated in L. von Reidemeister, MIng-Porzellane in Schwedischen sammlungen, Berlin, 1935, pl. 40B, and its companion box sold in our London rooms, 27th November 1973, lot 231. Another box of this form and decoration, in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, is published in Blue-and-white Ware of the Ming Dynasty, Book VI, Hong Kong, 1963, pl. 8.

Wanli boxes of this form can also be found painted with dragons; for example, see a box from the Falk collection sold at Christie's New York, 20th September 2001, lot 144, and again in these rooms, 10th April 2006, lot 1675.

Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art. 08 Apr 09. Hong Kong www.sothebys.com photo courtesy Sotheby's