Last autumn, a rare Ming porcelain — a Wucai Fish Jar from the Jiajing Period offered from Robert Tsao's Le Cong Tang collection — made headlines after selling for HK$213m at Christie's Hong Kong. Four months later, another Jiajing Fish Jar of the same type is going up for auction at Poly Auction Hong Kong this spring.
Inscribed with a six-character seal mark in underglaze blue at the base, this fish jar is the earliest type of large polychrome-decorated porcelain made by the Imperial kilns. With a globular body, the jar is potted stoutly and painted around a panorama of eight vivid golden carp in various positions as they swim or jump among floating aquatic plants above a band of lotus plants.
The carp are set between a band of overlapping leaf tips in underglaze blue below and a band of petals lappets in yellow, iron-red and blue with blue outlines at the shoulder.
This jar is 34 cm tall, in the same height as the one sold at Christie's. But the current one is not accompanied with its original cover.
Regarding the provenance, the Wucai Fish Jar sold at Christie's originally belonged to two prominent collectors — J.M Hu, the master of Zande Lou (Studio of Temporary Enjoyment) and Robert Tsao, the master of Le Cong Tang. Whereas the present fish jar also has a reliable provenance as it was previously sold at Sotheby's London in 1975 and later at Christie's London in 2001.
This fish jar carries an estimate of HK$5m, which is a relatively conservative estimate considering another one of its same kind fetched a much higher price. However, there is a fly in the ointment. The present one is in a less favourable condition with a missing cover and a crack at the bottom. It's up to the buyers to decide whether the estimate is attractive enough.
A Large Wucai Fish Jar
Jiajing Six-Character Mark and of the Period (1522-1566), Ming Dyansty
Auction house: Poly Auction Hong Kong
Sale: Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art
Auction date: 2018/4/2
Height: 34 cm
- Sotheby's London, Dec 9, 1975, Lot 132
- Japanese Private Collection
- Christie's London, Nov 13, 2001, Lot 143