L11210_3_lr_1

A fine and rare Konoha Temmoku tea bowl. Southern Song Dynasty, 12th/ 13th century.  Photo Sotheby's

of 'Jizhou' manufacture, of conical shape with a small raised knob in the centre, covered with a fine opaque dark brown glaze that leaves the lip in a slightly lighter tone, and decorated on the inside with a large trefoil tree leaf with worm-eaten holes, forming an attractive yellowish-brown silhouette with fine veining, ivory-tinted edges and a honey-coloured stem, the low narrow footring and recessed base exposed in the pale biscuit; in Japanese ivory silk pouch (shifuku) with matching silk cushion and four corner posts, in ribbon-tied paulownia-wood box and cover, ribbon-tied black-lacquered outer box and cover, and brown cotton furoshiki with inscribed wooden tag; 15.2cm., 6in. Estimate 60,000—80,000 GBP. Lot Sold 337,250 GBP

PROVENANCE: Collection of Alfred Clark (no. 609) (1930s).
Mayuyama & Co. Ltd, Tokyo.

EXHIBITED: International Exhibition of Chinese Art, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1935-6, cat. no. 1150.

Arts de la Chine Ancienne, Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris, 1937, cat. no. 681.

Sung Dynasty Wares. Chun and Brown Glazes, Oriental Ceramic Society, London, 1952, cat. no. 178.

Bi no bi/Exhibition of Select Works of Ancient Chinese Art, Mitsukoshi, Nihonbashi, Tokyo, 1973, cat. no. 64.

Meiwan gojū sen. [Fifty famous tea bowls], Okayama Art Museum, Okayama, 1977, cat. no. 5.

Temmoku, Tokugawa Art Museum and Nezu Art Museum, Tokyo, 1979, cat. no. 83.

Chūgoku no tōji/Special Exhibition of Chinese Ceramics, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, 1994, cat. no. 212.

LITERATURE AND REFERENCES: Kōyama Fujiō, Tōji taikei [Outlines of ceramics], vol. 38: Temmoku, Tokyo, 1974, pls 40 and 41, and fig. 48.

Ryūsen Shūhō/Mayuyama, Seventy Years, Tokyo, 1976, vol. I, pl. 677.

NOTE: The 'Jizhou' kilns at Yonghezhen, Ji'an county in Jiangxi province, a region formerly called Jizhou, were not blessed with the finest raw materials for making stonewares, but came up with the most original ideas for decorating. They were unique in exploiting the chemical composition of real tree leaves for making tea bowls with most naturalistic – because natural – silhouette leaf designs. In Japan, these bowls have become known by the same term 'temmoku' that designates black-glazed tea bowls of 'Jian' ware, but with the specification 'konoha', 'tree leaf'. The present bowl is among the finest of its type, of large, well-potted form, with a smooth brownish-black glaze and a leaf of interesting outline of a kind otherwise rarely used on such bowls.

A related bowl is illustrated in Gugong Songci tulu. Longquan yao, Geyao ji qita ge yao/Illustrated Catalogue of Sung Dynasty Porcelain in the National Palace Museum. Lung-ch'üan Ware, Ko Ware and Other Wares, Taipei, 1974, pl. 72; another from the collection of Kamei Takayoshi was included in the Mostra d'Arte Cinese/Exhibition of Chinese Art, Palazzo Ducale, Venice, 1954, cat. no. 949; and one was sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 25th October 1993, lot 701.

L11210_11_lr_1

A fine Dingyao meiping vase. Northern Song Dynasty,  10th-11th century.  Photo Sotheby's

the well-proportioned ovoid body finely potted, tapering from a bulging shoulder to a narrow base with low footring, surmounted by a slender neck with thin everted rim with raised lip, the near-white body covered with a smooth, tactile ivory-coloured glaze; in Japanese padded purple silk cloth, ribbon-tied paulownia-wood box and cover, ribbon-tied varnished-wood outer box and cover, and brown cotton furoshiki with inscribed wooden tag; 24.4cm., 9 5/8 in. Estimate 60,000—80,000 GBP. Lot Sold 349,250 GBP

PROVENANCE: Mayuyama & Co. Ltd, Tokyo.

EXHIBITED: Chūgoku Sō Gen bijutsu ten/Chinese Arts of the Sung and Yuan Periods, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, 1961, cat. no. 225.

Chūgoku ko tōji. Tō Sō meiji ten [Ancient Chinese ceramics: Exhibition of important Tang and Song ceramics], Shirokiya Department Store, Nihonbashi, Tokyo, 1964, cat. no. 136.

Chūgoku tōji meihō Ten Series [Important treasures of Chinese ceramics series], Gotoh Art Museum, Tokyo, 1966, cat. no. 26

Sō Gen no bijutsu [The art of Song and Yuan], Osaka Municipal Art Museum, Osaka, 1978, cat. no. 1-87.

Teiyō hakuji/White Porcelain of Ding Yao, Nezu Art Museum, Tokyo, 1983, cat. no. 108.

Tōji hyakusen ten [Exhibition of one hundred selected ceramics], Tokyo Art Youth Club, Tokyo, CHECK DATE, cat. no. 2.

LITERATURE AND REFERENCES: Ryūsen Shūhō/Mayuyama, Seventy Years, Tokyo, 1976, vol. I, pl. 384.

Sō Gen no bijutsu [The art of the Song and Yuan], Tokyo, 1980, pl. 116.

NOTE: This serene, well-proportioned shape with its distinctive grooved rim as its only decorative feature is a masterpiece of ceramic design. The simplicity that focuses attention on the proportions and quality of the glaze is remarkably 'modern' in concept. 'Dingyao' vases of any type are extremely rare and the few that exist tend to be of a later type, with incised designs. The present vase would seem to be one of the rare early Song examples from the 'Ding' kilns in Quyang, Ding county, Hebei province.

A very similar, slightly larger, 'Dingyao' meiping, excavated in Jiangyin, Jiangsu, in the south of China, is illustrated in Zhongguo taoci quanji [Complete series on Chinese ceramics], Shanghai, 1999-2000, vol. 7, pl. 49, where it is also stated that this type is rarely seen. A related brown 'Dingyao' meiping of somewhat different proportions, excavated from a Northern Song tomb at Zhenjiang, also in Jiangsu province, is published ibid., pl. 55.

L11210_2_lr_1

L11210_2_lr_2

A rare carved yaozhou celadon wine bottle. Northern Song Dynasty,  11th-12th century.  Photo Sotheby's

of elegant, slender pear shape with a narrow, trumpet-shaped neck, resting on a low, neatly cut foot, the body carved and combed with a fanciful flower scroll, circling the vase in an undulating movement, its four trefoil blooms alternating on both sides to appear upright or pending and the space between evenly filled with foliage, and the neck incised with a broad band of upright and pendant pointed petals enclosed between double lines, all covered with an olive-green glaze that pools to a deeper tone in the recessed areas, thus emphasizing the design, base and footring are unglazed, revealing a light grey ware, and the inside of the neck shows strong ribs from turning; in Japanese padded purple silk cloth, ribbon-tied paulownia-wood box and cover, and brown cotton furoshiki with inscribed wooden tag; 22cm., 8 3/4 in. Estimate 80,000—120,000 GBP. Lot Sold 241,250 GBP

PROVENANCE: Mayuyama & Co. Ltd, Tokyo.

EXHIBITED: Sō ji meihin ten/Exhibition of Sung Ceramics, The Japan Ceramic Society Tenth Anniversary Exhibition, Takashimaya Nihonbashi, Tokyo, 1955, cat. no. 11.

Chūgoku Sō Gen bijutsu ten/Chinese Arts of the Sung and Yuan Periods, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, 1961, cat. no. 168.

Chūgoku ko tōji. Tō Sō meiji ten [Ancient Chinese ceramics: Exhibition of important Tang and Song ceramics], Shirokiya Department Store, Nihonbashi, Tokyo, 1964, cat. no. 107.

Sō Gen no bijutsu [The art of Song and Yuan], Osaka Municipal Art Museum, Osaka, 1978, cat. no. 1-32.

Yōshuyō/The Masterpieces of Yaozhou Ware, Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka, 1997, cat. no. 75.

LITERATURE AND REFERENCES: Chūgoku ko tōji [Ancient Chinese ceramics], Tokyo, 1971, vol. 1, pl. 79.

Ryūsen Shūhō/Mayuyama, Seventy Years, Tokyo, 1976, vol. I, pl. 342.

NOTE: This elegant slender pear-shaped form with tall, narrow neck is an extremely rare Northern Song shape, known also from 'Jun', 'Ding' and northern black ware kilns, but in equally small numbers. The Yaozhou potters' remarkable ability to rapidly sketch superbly laid-out, graphic designs with a carving tool, is as beautifully exemplified by this bottle, as by the dish, lot 10.

Upright shapes of any kind are very rare among the large-scale production of the main Yaozhou kilns at Huangpu near Tongchuan in Shaanxi province. At the kiln site, where some 1,500 celadon styles have been identified, only fifty belonged to vases of any kind, of which only two were of this yuhuchunping shape. These two bottles from the Yaozhou kiln site, 22 cm and 20.9 cm high, respectively, are illustrated in Songdai Yaozhou yaozhi/The Yaozhou Kiln Site of the Song Period, Beijing, 1998, p. 292, fig. 148: 1 and 2, col. pl. 8, fig. 2 and pl. 77, fig. 4, the larger one probably illustrated again in Yaozhou yao/Yaozhou Kiln, Xi'an, 1992 (unnumbered plate). Both these bottles have similar designs, but the latter, smaller bottle shows very similar floral scrolls, whereas the former, larger one is carved with a scroll with two trefoil blooms alternating with two multi-petal ones. In a chart tracing the development of forms, ibid., p. 599, this type of bottle has been placed into the late (Northern) Song period.

A similar larger bottle, excavated at Huachi county, Gansu, and now in the Gansu Qingyang Region Museum is published as an 'excellent example of Yaozhou ware' in Zhongguo taoci quanji [Complete series on Chinese ceramics], Shanghai, 1999-2000, vol. 7, pl. 126 ; one from the Calmann collection was included in the exhibition The Arts of the Sung Dynasty, Oriental Ceramic Society, London, 1960, cat. no. 141; another larger bottle with the flower scroll extending up to the rim in the MOA Museum of Art, Atami, Japan, is illustrated in Sekai tōji zenshū/Ceramic Art of the World, vol.12: Sō/Sung Dynasty, Tokyo, 1977, pl. 49 ; and one with cut-down neck was offered in our New York rooms 30th March 2006, lot 40.

L11210_5_lr_1

L11210_5_lr_2

A large, bright blue carved Qingbai baluster vase. Northern Song Dynasty,  11th-12th century. Photo Sotheby's

the baluster-shaped body raised on a flaring foot, the straight neck opening into a wide, eight-lobed flower-shaped rim with down-turned petal tips, the body carved in low relief with a lush peony scroll with three blooms among densely sprouting foliage, each encircled by a scrolling stem, the petals and leaves with incised veining, the neck with a band of upright petals between double raised ribs and the neck inside with radiating lines of slip to separate the petals, and the whole piece covered with a transparent glaze that has pooled to an intense light turquoise blue in recessed areas, the base largely free of glaze and showing a broad brown-burnt ring from the firing support; in Japanese ribbon-tied paulownia-wood box with sliding cover, lined and fitted with purple silk, with matching inner cover, ribbon-tied black-lacquered outer box and cover and brown cotton furoshiki with inscribed wooden tag; 22.9cm., 9in. Estimate 80,000—120,000 GBP. Lot Sold 109,250 GBP

PROVENANCE: Mayuyama & Co. Ltd., Tokyo.

EXHIBITED: Chūgoku Sō Gen bijutsu ten/Chinese Arts of the Sung and Yuan Periods, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, 1961, cat. no. 239.

Chūgoku meiji ten/Chinese Ceramics. A Loan Exhibition of Selected Masterpieces, Fukuya, Hiroshima, 1961, cat. no. 35.

Chūgoku ko tōji. Tō Sō meiji ten [Ancient Chinese ceramics: Exhibition of important Tang and Song ceramics], Shirokiya Department Store, Nihonbashi, Tokyo, 1964, cat. no. 144.

Bi no bi [The beauty of beauties], Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi, Tokyo, 1967 (no cat. no.).

Sō Gen no bijutsu [The art of Song and Yuan], Osaka Municipal Art Museum, Osaka, 1978, cat. no. 1-119.

Chūgoku no tōji/Special Exhibition of Chinese Ceramics, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, 1994, cat. no. 161.

Sōdai no aojiro ji/Qingbai Wares of Song Dynasty, The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka, 1994, cat. no. 31.

Tōyō tōji meihin ten/Masterworks of Eastern Ceramics, Aichi Prefectural Ceramic Museum, Nagoya, 1994, cat. no. 41.

Sō ji [Song ceramics], Tobu Museum of Art, Tokyo; The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka; Hagi Uragami Museum, Hagi; 1999, cat. no. 48.

Chūgokutōji. Bi wo miru kokoro /Chinese ceramics, Enlightening through Beauty, Sen-Oku Hakuko Kan, Kyoto, 2006, cat. no. 29.

LITERATURE AND REFERENCES: Sekai bijutsu zenshū [Complete series on world art], Tokyo, 1965, vol. 6, pl. 125.

Kōyama Fujiō, Tōki Kōza [Lectures on ceramics], vol. 6: Chūgoku II.[China II. Song], Tokyo, 1971, pl. 90.

Satō Masahiko, Tōji taikei [Outlines of ceramics], vol. 3: Hakuji [White wares], Tokyo, 1975, pl. 60.

Ryūsen Shūhō/Mayuyama, Seventy Years, Tokyo, 1976, vol. I, pl. 419.

Hasebe Gakuji, Sekai tōji zenshū/Ceramic Art of the World, vol. 12: Sō/Sung Dynasty, Tokyo, 1977, pl. 32.

Sō Gen no bijutsu [The art of the Song and Yuan], Tokyo, 1980, pl. 129.

Chūgoku tōji no hassennen [8,000 years of Chinese ceramics], Tokyo, 1992, pl. 18.

Mino Yutaka, Chūgoku no tōji [China's ceramics], vol. 5: Hakuji [White wares], Tokyo, 1998, pl. 67, with a detail illustrated on the dust jacket.

NOTE: This vase is remarkable for the attractive intense coloration of the qingbai glaze, which is extremely rare. Qingbai, the bluish-white glaze created by the Raozhou kilns of Jingdezhen in Jiangxi province, received its distinctive bluish tone through reduction firing in a wood-fired kiln. The bluish tone is generally, however, no more than a hint in a colourless, transparent glaze.

This shape with its distinctive flower-shaped rim became popular in the Northern Song period and appeared at kilns both in north and south China. The Raozhou kilns at Jingdezhen were otherwise much better known for their production of bowls; vases of any kind are rare and the present one is a particularly large example.

Although vases of this general form exist in even larger sizes, they are then generally less carefully executed and decorated with simpler abstract scroll designs; see a vase illustrated in John Ayers, Chinese Ceramics in the Baur Collection, Geneva, 1999, vol. 1, pl. 57, or a pair sold in our New York rooms, 19th September 2001, lot 129.

L11210_10_lr_1

L11210_10_lr_2

A rare carved yaozhou celadon dish.  Northern Song Dynasty,  11th-12th century. Photo Sotheby's

the slightly concave inside, with a prominent rolled rim that provides a groove underneath for safe handling, the outside angled and tapering to a short narrow foot, carved with a fanciful flower spray with a large trefoil bloom and curling fronds of leaves, all with combed detail, asymmetrically arranged and evenly spaced to fill the centre, while the rim and outside are left plain, the olive-green glaze leaving only the footring and a patch on the base free where the body has fired a yellowish brown; in Japanese ribbon-tied paulownia-wood box and cover, lined and fitted with purple silk and covered with a matching silk cushion, ribbon-tied paulownia-wood outer box and cover, and brown cotton furoshiki with inscribed wooden tag; 18.8cm., 7 3/8 in. Estimate 30,000—40,000 GBP. Lot Sold 73,250 GBP

PROVENANCE: Mayuyama & Co. Ltd, Tokyo (before 1948).
Collection of Umezawa Hikotaro, Tokyo (1952).

EXHIBITED: Chinese Ceramics from Prehistoric Period through Ch'ien Lung, Los Angeles County Museum, Los Angeles, 1952, cat. no. 175

Sō ji meihin ten/Exhibition of Sung Ceramics, The Japan Ceramic Society Tenth Anniversary Exhibition, Takashimaya Nihonbashi, Tokyo, 1955, cat. no. 16.

Chūgoku ko tōji. Tō Sō meiji ten [Ancient Chinese ceramics: Exhibition of important Tang and Song ceramics], Shirokiya Department Store, Nihonbashi, Tokyo, 1964, cat. no. 104.

Sō Gen no bijutsu [The art of Song and Yuan], Osaka Municipal Art Museum, Osaka, 1978, cat. no. 1-59.

Chūgoku no tōji/Special Exhibition of Chinese Ceramics, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, 1994, cat. no. 146.

Yoshuyo/The Masterpieces of Yaozhou Ware, Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka, 1997, cat. no. 42, with enlarged detail as chapter divider, p. 141.

Sō ji [Song ceramics], Tobu Museum of Art, Tokyo; The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka; Hagi Uragami Museum, Hagi; 1999, cat. no. 15.

The dish was included in at least three further unidentified exhibitions in Japan, respectively as no. 23, no. 67, and unnumbered (exhibition labels preserved).

LITERATURE AND REFERENCES: Koyama Fujiō, Sō ji [Song ceramics], Tokyo, 1943, pl. 20.

Seiichi Muhaidojin Den, Rhusen Kaiko/ Reminiscences of Matsutaro Mayuyama, Tokyo, 1948, pl. 3.

Sherman E. Lee, 'Sung Ceramics in the Light of Recent Japanese Research', Artibus Asiae, XI, no. 3, 1948, fig. 5.

Kōyama Fujiō (ed.), Sekai tōji zenshū [Ceramic art of the world], vol. 10, Tokyo, 1955, pl. 26.

Tōyō bijutsu [Oriental art], vol. 4, Tokyo, 1967, pl. 18.

Kōyama Fujiō, Tōki Kōza [Lectures on ceramics], vol. 6: Chūgoku II. [China II. Song], Tokyo, 1971, pl. 18.

Ryūsen Shūhō/Mayuyama, Seventy Years, Tokyo, 1976, vol. I, pl. 343.

Hasebe Gakuji, Sekai tōji zenshū/Ceramic Art of the World, vol. 12: Sō/Sung Dynasty, Tokyo, 1977, pl. 197.

Chūgoku tōji shi [History of Chinese ceramics], Tokyo, 1978, pl. 12.

Kōyama Fujiō, Tōji taikei [Outlines of ceramics], vol. 36: Seiji [Celadon], Tokyo, 1978, pl. 59.

Sō Gen no bijutsu [The art of the Song and Yuan], Tokyo, 1980, pl. 97.

Satō Masahiko, Chinese Ceramics. A Short History, New York and Tokyo, 1981, pl. 8.

Yaozhou yao/Yaozhou Kiln, Xi'an, 1992, frontispiece and last (unnumbered) page.

NOTE: This concisely shaped and fluidly decorated dish so perfectly embodies the style and beauty of 'Yaozhou' ceramics that it has become an iconic piece of this type of Northern celadon ware. Since at least 1943 it has appeared in numerous exhibitions and publications, and featured prominently even in a monograph on 'Yaozhou' celadon published in mainland China in 1992, which contains largely material excavated from the kiln site. It has thus contributed to shaping our image of this type of northern stoneware, even though in Japan it had in the past often been classified as 'Ru' ware.

Both shape and design seem to be unique to the 'Yaozhou' manufactories, which is surprising given that the well-designed form is uniquely serviceable – its strongly curved rim providing a deep groove on the underside that enables a secure grip – and that the simple, quickly-sketched asymmetric flower design so perfectly fills the available space.

Dishes of this form with this distinctive convex rim are rare, and while other examples are known with the same pattern, this graphic design is on the present example executed with exceptional verve, revealing the hand of a master potter. Rejected versions of similar design have been excavated from the main 'Yaozhou' kilns at Huangpu near Tongchuan in Shaanxi province and are illustrated in Songdai Yaozhou yaozhi/The Yaozhou Kiln Site of the Song Period, Beijing, 1998, p. 210, fig. 109: 9; p.212, fig. 110: 1-3; col. pl. 5, fig. 2, and pl. 53, figs 1 and 2.

Completely preserved dishes of this design are in the Palace Museum, Beijing, published in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Porcelain of the Song Dynasty, Beijing, 1996, vol. 1, pl. 127; in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, from the collection of Oscar Raphael, illustrated in Mary Tregear, Song Ceramics, London, 1982, pl. 135; in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, illustrated in Oriental Ceramics: The World's Great Collections, Tokyo, New York and San Francisco, 1980-82, vol. 11, no. 27; and in the Baur Collection, Geneva, published in John Ayers, Chinese Ceramics in the Baur Collection, Geneva, 1999, vol. 1, pl. 10. One from the Fuller collection, sold at Christie's London, 28 June 1965, lot 297, is now in the Asia Society Galleries, New York, illustrated in Denise Patry Leidy, Treasures of Asian Art: The Asia Society's Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, New York, 1994, pl. 148; another in the Hetherington collection is illustrated in R.L. Hobson and A.L. Hetherington, The Art of the Chinese Potter, London, 1923, pl. 75, fig. 2.

L11210_9_lr_1

L11210_9_lr_2

A persimmon-coloud stoneware tea bowl. Northern Song Dynasty,  11th-12th century.  Photo Sotheby's

with nearly straight conical sides and a narrow domed centre, resting on a low foot, covered with a reddish-brown glaze turning dark brown at the rim and leaving the foot and most of the base free, revealing the pale grey stoneware body; in Japanese ivory silk pouch (shifuku) with matching silk cushion and four corner posts, ribbon-tied paulownia-wood box and cover, and brown cotton furoshiki with inscribed wooden tag; 12.3cm., 4 7/8 in. Estimate 12,000—15,000 GBP. Lot Sold 33,650 GBP

PROVENANCE: Collection of George de Menasce (1890-1967) (no. 258).
Spink & Son, London.
Mayuyama & Co. Ltd, Tokyo.

EXHIBITED: Sung Dynasty Wares. Chun and Brown Glazes, Oriental Ceramic Society, London, 1952, cat. no. 126.

Mostra d'Arte Cinese/Exhibition of Chinese Art, Palazzo Ducale, Venice, 1954, cat. no. 553.

The George de Menasce Collection, part II, Spink & Son, London, 1972, cat. no. 247.

LITERATURE AND REFERENCES: Kōyama Fujiō, Tōji taikei [Outlines of ceramics], vol. 38: Temmoku, Tokyo, 1974, pls 26 and 27.

Ryūsen Shūhō/Mayuyama, Seventy Years, Tokyo, 1976, vol. I, pl. 626.

NOTE: This persimmon-coloured glaze became popular in the Northern Song dynasty particularly at the 'Yaozhou' kilns of Shaanxi and the 'Ding' kilns of Hebei, and may have been devised to imitate contemporary reddish-brown lacquer ware. This stark, conical shape epitomizes the Song spirit of uncompromising simplicity.

Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art, 11 May 11, London www.sothebys.com