Marchants to show Kangxi blue & white with copper red

Marchant’s of Kensington Church Street, London, have announced a new exhibition to coincide with Asian Art in London and which opens in a few days time. The selling exhibition will contain 34 pieces of outstanding porcelain carefully selected and is entitled Kangxi Blue and White and Underglaze Copper-Red.


No.7 A Chinese imperial porcelain blue and white and underglaze copper-red deep bowl, wan, with upright sides, painted in the well of the interior with a carp leaping from crested waves beneath the sun, amongst three lotus flowerheads and a prunus flowerhead, encircled by a wide band of two carp, crab, prawn, shells, arrow heads and aquatic plants on a stylised wave ground, beneath a further blue-ground crested wave band with copper-red prunus flowerheads at the rim, the exterior with three further carp and a mandarin fish on a wave ground amongst lotus and prunus flowerheads.

7.80 inches, 19.8 cm diameter.

The base with a six-character mark of Kangxi within a double ring in underglaze blue and of the period, 1662-1722.

Wood stand

  • Formerly in the O’Byrne Collection.
  • Exhibited at The Oriental Ceramic Society exhibition, The Animals in Chinese Art, 1968, no. 507.
  • Formerly in the Sachot Collection, France.

Emperor Kangxi reigned from 1662–‐1722, the longest reign in Chinese history. It was a prosperous time for the nation in economics and trade as well as in the arts; it was a great period for production of high quality porcelain


No.2 A Chinese porcelain blue and white and underglaze copper-red basin, painted on the interior with a large praying mantis on rockwork, beneath branches of prunus with a butterfly in flight above large leaves painted with a light blue wash, bamboo and daisy all encircled within a double ring, the cavetto painted with flowering chrysanthemum and peony beneath prunus branches on the flat everted rim, the underside supported by a wide foot rim. 14 1Ž4 inches, 36.2 cm diameter.

Early Kangxi, circa 1670-1673.

  • Purchased from Marchant, London, 28th May 1985.
  • Sold by Christie’s, New York, in their auction, An Era of Inspiration, 17th Century Chinese Porcelains from the Collection of Julia and John Curtis, 16th March 2015, lot. 3580.
  • A similar basin in the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art at the British Museum, with figural decoration and an inscription on the base ‘made in the Xinhai year of the Kangxi reign (1671) for the Hall of Chinese Concord’ is illustrated by Rosemary Scott in Elegant Form and Harmonious Decoration: Four Dynasties of Jingdezhen Porcelain, 1992, no. 110, p. 105, collection no. PDF 653.

 The exhibition comprises of 34 Kangxi pieces in a variety of forms, including eight ‘mark and period’ ones, many with copper red details. Although none of the exhibits are cyclically dated, the exhibition has been arranged in chronological order so far as is possible utilising comparisons with similar items in important collections like the Percival David Collection..


No. 17 Chinese porcelain blue and white vase of baluster form, ping, with cylindrical ribbed neck and gently flared rim, painted with a continuous mountain river landscape scene, with two scholars and their attendant carrying a wrapped qin, while crossing a rockwork bridge leading to a house at the river’s edge, all amongst pine trees and wuti, with banks of low clouds and mountain peaks beneath the moon, the neck rib divided by bands of ruyi-heads, scrolls, key-fret and jewels.

17 5/8 inches, 44.8 cm high.

Kangxi, circa 1690.

Wood stand.

  • From a private American collection, San Francisco.
  • Formerly in the Roy Davids Collection, no. 123.
  • Included by Michel Beurdeley and Guy Raindre in, Qing Porcelain, 1986, no. 53, full colour page p. 49

Early style and technique can be identified by bold freehand painting, as seen  with an Imperial fish bowl which comes with impeccable provenance of the O’Byrne collection and Sachot Collection and which was exhibited in an Oriental Ceramic Society exhibition. 

The exhibition will be held at Marchant’s well known gallery at 120 Kensington Church Street from the 2nd-8th of November. A catalogue will be available priced at £100. It will also be online at





Highlights of 2015 on

We look back on the year 2015 as reflected by the pages of

January 2015

London dealer Anita Gray offered this exquisite Kangxi figure for sale. Hardly surprisingly, it was snapped up in a matter of hours!


February 2015

Brought the sale of contents at Eden Hall, in the Scottish borders, by the Rt Hon Lady Loch. There were several items brough back tothe UK from Yuanminguan by the 1st Baron Loch (background and below a pair of sancai roof tiles).

Rt Hon Lady Loch


The month also saw a spectacular, hihgly organised theft from Fontainebleau. Fifteen items were stolen from the Chinese collection, many of which had been looted from Yuanminguan by French soldiers. There has been no sign of them being recovered and the artefacts are reckoned by experts to have been ‘repatriated’ to China.


March 2015

the Shanghai-based sculptor Chen Dapeng announces his participation in the Olympia Art & Antiques Fair, November 2015 (below).


April 2015

We visit the porcelain city, Jingdezhen, for a series of articles. Below, The Jingdezhen Porcelain Orchestra.


May 2015

We ask if Chinese billionaire Liu Yiqian (below) has got his money back from producing copies of his US$36m. chicken cup. He drinks from the original below, and also the boxed reproduction which sells at around $60 !

wpid-liu-drinks-from-chicken-cup-lr.jpg.jpeg wpid-chicken-cup-boxed.jpg.jpeg

June 2015

We reported from Taipei on the chronic overcrowding at The National Palace Museum.

National Palace Museum (6)

July 2015

We turned our attention to the Chinese fashion industry in our article The Traditional Etihc in Chinese Fashion goes International. Below is Guo Pei’s stunning twist on Chinese blue and white porcelain. Also fashion label Doudu’s ‘Bodybelt’, a modern piece of lingerie based on traditional underwear.

guo pei hk fashion wk


August 2015

We published this photogrpah of a painting offered for sale at the June Olympia Art & Antiques Fair: the mystery gil with the penetrating gaze, artist unknown. Nobody volunteeered any information who she might be!



September 2015

London dealers Marchant, Kensington Church Street, celebrated their 90th anniversary with a collection of magnificient jades they had handled over the years.

Marchant jade 2

October 2015

A top Chinese official warns on the widespread destruction of the country’s cultural heritiage at the hands of tomb robbers and property developers. Below a photograph of the unique colonial style Arxan Shan Railway Station in northern China, destroyed by property developers.

 arxan shan railway station

November 2015

Chinese sculptor Chen Dapeng celebrates the opening of his first exhibition in London The Winter Olympia Art & Antiques Fair. His 200 sq m stand was organised by his UK agents Paul Harris Asia Arts. His bust of HM Queen Elizabeth II (below) proved controversial and received massive TV, radio and press coverage. It was, however, only one sculpture out of almost fifty works on display.

Paul-Olympia 29


December 2015

The Berlin-based online auctioneer Auctionata put up a small Kangxi dragon vase for sale estimated at euro 5-10,000. It started at 5,000 and rose giddily to the heights of euro 875,000 – almost a million dollars.

lot lot34 dragon vase cu


Asian Art in London: Chinese export ware appears to be on the up . . .

Asian Art in London is always invaluable when it comes to identifying trends. This year, we visited three significant exhibitions of Chinese export ware, an area of collecting which has, let us say, been neglected in the rush for blue and white and pretty famille rose . . .

This year, Will Motley of Cohen & Cohen had one spectacular piece on display, and an array of other simply wonderful pieces in two-floored premises on Jermyn Street. The exhibition, and the accompanying book, shared the same intriguing title, Hit & Myth. The fabulous Yongzheng bowl dated 1735 (pictured below) was sold to an important museum in the Far East. The proposed destination is top secret for the moment as committee approval and paperwork is finalised. The bowl is highly unusual in that it portrays the actual making of porcelain. “As far as we know, there are only two of such bowls in the world,” Will Motley revealed.

It is the second time that Motley has sold this particular bowl. Hardly surprisingly, he is addicted to export porcelain. “It is the forgotten cousin,” he says. “It is a complex field with many sub-categories like armorial porcelain and famille verte.

“Many Chinese buyers are bemused by it,.” says Motley. Apparently, they simply fail to recognise it, so different is it from their normal taste. However, that may be changing, “I have, at least, been asked to sell single items which were part of a pair . . .The Chinese simply don’t get it.”

The title of the exhibition, and the book Hit & Myth (£35), reflects the presence of several mythological pieces and three or four other most unusual items.

1 cohen & cohen

Bound for a museum in the Far East . . .  Yongzheng bowl (1735)        Photo Paul Harris

In Kensington Church Street,  Marchants baptised their new premises, at 101, across the road from their well established ones (which are showing blanc de chine currently), with a selection of alluring pieces. Marchant, a long established firm, have an equally long commitment to Chinese export ware.

1 Asian Art Marchant new premises (3)

Marchants new premises at 101 Kensington Church Street (abovePhoto Paul Harris

An exquisite and unusual bowl on display at Marchants   Photo Paul Harris

1 marchant export bowl

Across the road from Marchant’s export ware emporium, dealer Jorge Welsh has his Out of the Ordinary exhibition. He avers that Chinese export porcelain was produced in an ‘extraordinary’ range of shapes during the late 17th and 18th centuries ‘some of which are truly out of the ordinary’. These were frequently ordered in small quantities and through the private trade. They reflect many changing aspects of daily life at the time. There is a fascinating hardback book Out of the Ordinary (£100), which we shall look at later.

We were particularly attracted by one piece, a pair of famille rose goose tureens with covers. In extraordinary condition and highly unusual, they are worth recording here in some detail (supplied by Jorge Welsh).

Pair of Famille Rose Goose Tureens and Covers

Photo Jorge Welsh      Pair of famille rose Goose Tureens and Covers

Qing dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1795)

Porcelain decorated in overglaze enamels of the famille rose palette

Height: 32.5 cm; length: 39 cm; width: 25 cm

A pair of large tureens, each naturalistically modelled in two pieces as a goose with webbed feet tucked beneath the body, wings folded against the back, a long neck and small head with a slightly open beak, which serves as a handle for the tureen cover. The detailed plumage is moulded, incised and painted in different shades of brown, while the wings are painted in light brown, dark brown and blue enamel. The neck and head are painted with brown enamels, while the bulge on top of the head and circles around the eyes are painted in pink and the eyes are detailed in black. The beak and the feet are painted in different shades of orange enamel.

Jorge Welsh explains: Large soup tureens in naturalistic forms representing animals and birds were probably modelled after faience examples which were very much in fashion during the 18th century, in conjunction with rococo taste in Europe. Impressive centerpieces, these tureens accompanied table-services and were created for the amusement of guests dining in wealthy households. Large tureens were modelled in the form of fish, geese, roosters, boar’s and ox-head’s, which were also occasionally accompanied by tureen stands. Smaller vegetable and sauce tureens in the shape of crabs, fish, sows, dormice, tortoises and ducks have been recorded, amongst other shapes.

Although the actual prototype has not yet been identified, goose-shaped tureens were most likely derived from European ceramic models, which became increasingly fashionable in the 1740s. Large goose tureens were produced in Germany at the Höchst faience factory, which was patronized by the Elector of Mainz. They were possibly modelled by G. F. Hess, but surviving examples are rare.[1] The director of the factory, Adam von Löwenfinck, left in 1749 and joined the Strasbourg factory, where goose, turkey and cock tureens, among others, were made in faience from 1750 to 1754, from where this fashion spread across France.[2] This type of goose tureen was also produced at the Meissen factory by J. J. Kaendler in the middle of the century and at the Real Fábrica do Rato in Lisbon by Master Tomás Bruneto.[3] These pieces were greatly appreciated and much in demand in Portugal during the 18th century.

Although large goose tureens were usually purchased through private order, demand was such that the Dutch East India Company (VOC) ordered 25 similar tureens for its stock in 1763. The VOC archives record that ‘25 tureens, the form as a boar’s head, the stand finely painted’ and 25 ‘in the form of a goose’ were ordered. In 1764, 19 more boar’s heads and four goose tureens were shipped at fl. 10.50 each.[4] The same year the directors asked for 30 more tureens, but the purchase did not materialise because the supercargoes considered it too risky.

Chinese porcelain goose tureens were manufactured in two similar forms, but one has a much shorter neck than the other. The larger type usually measures about 40 cm in height while the one with shorter neck measures about 34 cm. Each type is often found in pairs of virtually identical form and decoration. The decoration of goose tureens varies from the very naturalistic to more fanciful interpretations of the famille rose palette. Goose tureens with short necks are not recorded as having stands painted with a representation of the same animal.

Similar goose tureens to the present examples, modelled with a shorter neck, are in the Palacio Nacional de Queluz,[5] in the British Museum in London,[6] and in the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum.[7] Other examples were in the Mildred and Rafi Mottahedeh collection[8] and the Helena Woolworth McCann collection.[9] An example of this type but presenting a lavish decoration heightened in gilt is found in the C.T. Loo Collection in Paris.[10]

Goose tureens with tall necks are found in the Carmona e Costa Foundation in Lisbon[11] and in the former Mottahedeh collection.[12] Another belongs to a private collection and is illustrated by Pinto de Matos.[13] A pair was in the Chateau de Plaisance, built by Pâris-Duverney (1684-1770), who was an advisor (1723-26) to the Duc de Bourbon and a protégé of the Marquise de Pompadour, and also director of the French Compagnie des Indes.[14] A further pair of goose tureens mounted in silver and made for the English market is in the collection of Brodick Castle, probably formerly in the collection of William Beckford in Fonthill Abbey.[15]

Goose tureens with tall necks are also recorded from armorial services for the Spanish market. A set of tureens including a goose, rooster and boar’s head, each accompanied by stands, was part of a large service made for the Asteguieta family.[16] Another example bears the arms of the Cervantes family[17] and one tureen from the Ricardo do Espírito Santo Silva Collection bears the arms of Don Matias de Gálvez y Gallardo, viceroy of New Spain (1783-1784).[18]

[1] See Howard and Ayers, 1978, vol. II, p. 591.

[2] For an example of a turkey tureen see Fennimore and Halfpenny, 2000, p. 178, pl. 97.

[3] Pinto de Matos and Salgado, 2002, p. 148.

[4] Jörg, 1982, p. 190.

[5] This tureen is illustrated in situ by Ferro, 1998, p. 72.

[6] Krahl, and Harrison-Hall, 1994, pp. 208-209, pl. 91.

[7] Palmer, 1976, pp. 56-57, fig. 25.

[8] Howard and Ayers, ibid.. p. 590, pl. 614.

[9] Phillips, 1956, p. 160, pl. 72.

[10] Beurdeley, 1962, p. 172, cat. 102.

[11] Pinto de Matos and Salgado, ibid. pp. 148-149, pl. 40.

[12] This example was exhibited in the exhibition Oriental Ceramic Society, 1968, cat. 297 and is illustrated in Howard and Ayers, ibid., p. 591, pl. 615.

[13] Pinto de Matos, 2011, vol. II, p. 114-115, pl. 258.

[14] Beurdeley and Raindre, 1986, p. 205, pl. 279.

[15] See, Sargent, 1991, p. 210.

[16] Illustrated and exhibited in The Art of the Qing Potter: Important Chinese Export Porcelain, 1997, p. 71, colour pl. 50.

[17] Mudge, 1986, pp. 54, figs. 62-64.

[18] Fundaçao Ricardo Espírito Santo Silva, 2000, p. 68, pl. 53. Also illustrated in Beurdeley, ibid., p. 85, pl. XVII.


Bonhams Roy Davids Collection Sale vase highlights role of women in China

Next week, during Asian Art in London, auctioneers Bonhams mount no less than half a dozen sales in their New Bond Street and Knightsbridge premises, which puts them well ahead of the pack in the energy stakes.

Particularly interesting, in our view, is the 153-lot auction of the collection of Mr Roy Davids. Although the period over which he collected Chinese porcelain was not particularly long (the first items were acquired around the late 1990s and the final accessions in 2012).  The selective quality of the items in his collection cannot be doubted and they are particularly strong in the areas of famille verte, blue and white and Imperial yellow.

A fine porcelain vase showing the ‘Four Elegant Accomplishments’, important cultural activities suitable for Chinese scholar gentlemen, but most unusually seen here with women taking part in these activities, heads the sale of the Roy Davids Collection on November 7th.

This striking vase, lot 54, estimated to sell for £80,000-110,000, is a fine and rare famille verte baluster vase from the Kangxi period 1662 to 1722 with the body finely enamelled with a continuous scene of elegant court ladies engaged in the four activities – painting, calligraphy, playing the qin, a stringed musical instrument, and engrossed in weiqi, a board-game in which strategy is key.

Lot 54 - Roy Davids Collection

In later Imperial Chinese society, women were confined to the home and were not encouraged to be educated. During the late Ming dynasty, however, against a background of social change and economic prosperity, some women managed to challenge these conventions. The famous late Ming philosopher Li Zhi (1527-1602) even declared in his ironically titled Book to be Burned that women were equally intelligent as men and took female students, much to general surprise. Celebrity courtesans accomplished in the genteel arts of music and literature entered male society, heralding a new model of feminine identity almost equal to the male literatus. The present vase reflects this unusual emergence of accomplished females, and celebrates them as being knowledgeable and intellectually engaged, whilst still being refined, delicate and attractively feminine.

The women are exquisitely detailed, their delicate features offset by richly patterned robes and extravagant gilt jewellery, revealing their high cultural status and wealth. The scenes are also extraordinarily dynamic, with the tall figures filling the surface, and very actively involved in their chosen pursuits, whether dipping the brush in the ink for the next stroke of a half-finished painting, or reaching into a pot for another weiqi counter.

Roy Davids, a former Marketing Director for Sotheby’s, has an eye for a beautiful object, be it a superbly illustrated book or a striking Chinese vase. He bought both at auction and from dealers like Marchant.

The vase has been widely exhibited, including a show in a show at the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Hong Kong Museum of Art, and was on loan to the Denver Museum of Art from 1995 to 2005.

Colin Sheaf, International Head of Asian Art at Bonhams, says: “Roy is a shrewd judge of excellence and this Chinese porcelain Collection is another endorsement of his taste. The works mostly cover a period of 300 years during which Chinese ceramics led the world in sophistication of design and decoration. Doubtless the vast majority will be snapped up by Chinese buyers keen to repatriate their national cultural heritage.”