Asian Art

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June 09, 2022 at 8:00 pm ET

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LOT 54

Lot 54

A Large Copper-Red 'Floral Scroll' Bowl, Possibly Hongwu Period (1368-1398)

A Large Copper-Red 'Floral Scroll' Bowl, Possibly Hongwu Period (1368-1398)
Lot 54 Details
A Large Copper-Red 'Floral Scroll' Bowl, Possibly Hongwu Period (1368-1398)

或明 洪武 釉里红缠枝莲纹碗

Heavily potted with deep rounded sides sitting on a short foot rising to an everted rim, the interior decorated with alternating flower heads on leafy stems, the exterior similarly decorated within key-fret and plantain borders
height 6.5 in — 16.6 cm, diameter 12.4 in — 31.5 cm

Estimate $1,000-$2,000

Realised: $7,200
Price Includes Buyer's Premium ?

Lot Report

Additional Images
A Large Copper-Red 'Floral Scroll' Bowl, Possibly Hongwu Period (1368-1398)
  • A Large Copper-Red 'Floral Scroll' Bowl, Possibly Hongwu Period (1368-1398)
  • A Large Copper-Red 'Floral Scroll' Bowl, Possibly Hongwu Period (1368-1398)
  • A Large Copper-Red 'Floral Scroll' Bowl, Possibly Hongwu Period (1368-1398)
  • A Large Copper-Red 'Floral Scroll' Bowl, Possibly Hongwu Period (1368-1398)

From the Collection of Joe Der, Toronto/Montreal.
Acquired in China before 1990.


The intense colour of this underglaze copper red bowl is found in very few examples of the best successfully fired Ming Hongwu period vessels, most notably in the yuhuchunping vase sold at Christie's Hong Kong, January 1, 1997. Other examples include the bowl from the Meiyingtang Collection sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong in 1991 and 2013, and the tall pear-shaped ewer in the Percival David Collection, British Museum. If this bowl had survived the firing intact, it might have been considered a masterpiece on the level of these others. Very few Hongwu period bowls of this size seem to have survived, though examples of large straight sided 'lotus' bowls can be found in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and an almost matching example in underglaze blue in the British Museum. Several damaged blue and white examples are kept in the Jingdezhen Museum, excavated at Dongmentou, Zhushan.

The "Zhengde" bowl form, with its characteristic everted rim, was a relatively new design of the past two hundred years by the late fourteenth century. Some scholars have theorized that the everted rim is meant to add stability to the Zhengde form and decrease warpage in firing. Underglaze copper red Zhengde bowls are more commonly found in smaller examples of around 20cm in diameter. Purchased in China in the mid 1980s, it would seem likely that this bowl is connected with excavations around Fushan road, after workers laying pipe there found the first evidence of early Ming sites in late 1982. A firing flaw in the base might be the origin of the breakage of the bowl, something which might be better examined in the process of a more sympathetic restoration.

The painted decoration is presented in a very orthodox style with the undulating tendril vine of the interior rim, the key fret at the outer rim and foot, and the cavetto with a wide band of six alternating lotus and clematis blooms surrounding a roundel of five blooms in a cross formation, each register separated by double bowstring bands. The floral design actually has less in common with underglaze painted bowls of the Yuan period, and is more related to the floral patterns of moulded Yaozhou, Qingbai, and Ding ware bowls of the Song and Yuan dynasties, both in the arrangement of six "petals" surrounding the cavetto roundel and in the accentuating of the floral blooms by encircling them with vine and leaves. Though derived from flower and vine designs that appear on the bodies of some Yuan period guan jars, it appears as less sophisticated in its early Ming manifestation. By the second half of the Hongwu reign, the ordered geometry of these earliest Ming underglaze painted wares had moved away from the static charm of vine-encircled flower heads, preferring denser leaf patterning, thinner borders, and wider roundel designs towards what we now think of as the typical "Ming style" of blue and white porcelain.

Compare with examples found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, accession number 18.56.35; and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, accession number 60.1463.

Notes provided by Anthony M. Lee, Asian Art Research, Canada.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, accession number 18.56.35
Museum of Fine Arts Boston, accession number 60.1463
Click here to download condition report images


heavily restored

LOT 54

About Condition Ratings

  • 5 Stars: Excellent - No discernable damage, flaws or imperfections
  • 4 Stars: Very Good - Minor flaws or imperfections visible only under close inspection using specialised instruments or black light
  • 3 Stars: Good - Minor flaws visible upon inspection under standard lighting
  • 2 Stars: Fair - Exhibits flaws or damage that may draw the eye under standard lighting
  • 1 Star: Poor - Flaws or damage immediately apparent under standard lighting (examples: missing components, rips, broken glass, damaged surfaces, etc.)

Note: Condition ratings and condition details are the subjective opinions of our specialists and should be used as a guide only. Waddington’s uses due care when preparing condition details, however, our staff are not professional restorers or conservators. Condition details and reports are not warranties and each lot is sold “as is” in accordance with the buyer’s terms and conditions of sale. In all cases the prospective purchaser is responsible for inspecting the property themselves prior to placing a bid.