CATALOGUE NUMBER 0206
GREEN-GROUND BISCUIT PEN BOX
KANGXI PERIOD (1661-1722)
Length: 8 ¼ inches
Edgar and Hedwig Worch Collection
Christie's New York, June 2, 1994, lot 400A
The Chinese Porcelain Company, Ltd., New York, 2000
A green-ground biscuit pen box and cover. Modeled after an Islamic metal prototype, of deep elongated oval form containing three circular and one rectangular compartment, and topped by a flat, conforming cover. Decorated in green, yellow, aubergine and black enamels on the biscuit. The sides painted with a sinuous kylin grasping a lotus branch in its mouth, all on a green ground. The cover decorated with a finely scaled dragon surrounded by scattered flames emitted from the single pearl it intently pursues, reserved on the same green ground as the box and enclosed by a thin pale aubergine band, the sides with a wide yellow border.
As pointed out by Basil Gray in his article entitled, "The Influence of Near Eastern Metalwork on Chinese Ceramics", published in Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society, 1940-1941, the form of this type of pen box is based on an Islamic metal form. Gray illustrates a 15th century blue and white example and it is interesting to watch the progression of decoration on these boxes through the following centuries. Another blue and white example in the Percival David Foundation, illustrated by Scott 1992, number 40, dates from the Xuande period (1425-36). Its design is a combination of classic Chinese diaper patterns combined with eastern style pointed cartouches surrounded by spiraling leafy tendrils. A wucai example, with a Wanli mark and dating to the Ming Dynasty (16th-17th century), is in the Tokyo National Museum and illustrated in Tokyo National Museum 1990, number 353.