CHINE DYNASTIE MING, MARQUE ET PÉRIODE WANLI (1573 - 1619)
= Important porcelain aquarium with wucai decoration decorated with ducks among lotuses, the basin of circular form with a slightly rounded body decorated with four pairs of mandarin ducks frolicking among the blooming lotuses and other aquatic plants, the whole surmounted by a spiral frieze. The flat lip is decorated with a waving scroll.
The six-character mark Da Ming Wan Li Nian Zhi in blue underglaze in a frame below the lip. With a high natural wood display base.
H. 25,5 cm - D. 49 cm
Collection of a French diplomat, then by descent.
A similar piece sold by Christies, sale "Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Part I & II" of 15 September 2011, New York, lot 1483.
The depiction of ducks in a lotus pond as a decorative motif on ceramics originated in Tang Dynasty productions and became particularly popular during the Yuan Dynasty on blue-white dishes and vases. The popularity of this motif continued throughout the Ming and Qing dynasties.
The iconography of the duck couple is associated with fidelity and harmony. In "Designs as Signs: Decoration and Chinese Ceramics", Percival David Foundation, London, 2001, Stacey Pierson details that Mandarin duck pairs represent fidelity or marital harmony, as they are said to unite for life. Combined with the lotus, homophone of He ("Harmony"), they may represent the wish to have male offspring.
Only three other Wanli period aquariums with the same decoration appear to have survived, and three of these are in museum collections. The most widely published example is a slightly smaller model (44.2 cm diam.) from the Idemitsu collection, illustrated in the exhibition catalog, "In Pursuit of the Dragon," Seattle Art Museum, 1988, p. 133, no. 66. Another larger example (58.5 cm diameter), marked Wanli, in the Victoria and Albert Museum, is illustrated in S. Jenyns, "Ming Pottery and Porcelain", London, 1953, pl. 101. A third example (46.5 cm diameter) is illustrated in "Mayuyama, Seventy Years", vol. 2, Tokyo, 1976, p. 317, no. 950.
This characteristic decoration was also used on other pieces of the Wanli period, including a wucai-decorated garlic-head vase, bearing the mark of the Wanli emperor, in the collection of the Palace Museum, illustrated in "The Complete Treasures of the Palace Museum - 38 - Porcelains in Polychrome and Contrasting Colours", Hong Kong, 1999, p. 30, no. 27.
Bottom is missing, body cut and heavily restored, old restorations, wears, scratches, frittings, lacks of enamels, many cracks and chips