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Subject:Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Corey Thu, Dec 22, 2016 IP: 193.169.154.224

A similar one at an English museum:

http://masterpieces.asemus.museum/stories/view.nhn?id=96

Any opinion much appreciated.







Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Corey Wed, Dec 28, 2016

There is also this one from the Riesco collection which was available at Christie's in 2003 estimated at hk$ 2-3M! The box in focus was bought online from a Japanese dealer. It wasn't described as old but I recognized the style as correct for Wanli period wucai. I then brought it to the reputable local auction house Bruun Rasmussen, but the man there felt certain that the box is fake. He claimed the colors was too bright and that the unglazed parts should be smooth. But I researched this and found several images of Wanli wucai online which appear equally bright in colors, and also several examples where the unglazed parts looks rough. The box also have scratches all over and some of the enamels, that also have a fine web of crazing, seems to be worn off, which is a good sign of age. And in one of the pictures provided by the seller (second picture posted below) you can see a metallic iridescence in the green enamels at seven o'clock. So I'm a little confused. I still think the box could be a genuine Wanli period piece, but any further observations by the visitors of this board would be very welcome!





Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Corey Mon, Jan 02, 2017

Should have been Christie's 2013 - not 2003. PDF format of the catalogue available here:

http://www.christies.com/PDF/catalog/2013/HGK3266_SaleCat.pdf

Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Lee Tue, Jan 03, 2017

Sorry brand new fake.

Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Corey Wed, Jan 04, 2017

And how can you tell? Could you please specify your conclusion?

Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Corey Fri, Jan 06, 2017

While I wait for your reply I would like to draw attention to an old thread on this board where you stated that iridescence, glaze fritting and pits from broken bubbles are good indicators of age. (See link) All these three things are present as can be seen on the photos posted here.



URL Title :http://asianart.com/phpforum/index.php?method=detailAll&Id=85612


Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Bill H Sun, Jan 08, 2017

I know there's an exception for every rule, but some colors on your covered box not only appear too bright, they're also overly opaque, particularly the green and red. The latter looks not to be the iron-based red pigment used by Ming, Qing and preceding potters, but the modern one based on some other formula.

For comparison, here are some Sotheby's results for Wanli items:

http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2011/fine-chinese-ceramics-works-of-art-l11210/lot.63.html

http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2010/fine-chinese-ceramics-works-of-art-n08659/lot.241.html

Best Regards,

Bill H.



Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Corey Mon, Jan 09, 2017

Many thanks for your reply. Yes, I agree that the colors on the box are brighter than usually seen on Ming wucai, but I researched this and found some examples online. One at Victoria and Albert museum, that compares well with the intense under glaze sapphire blue and to some degree also the bright green enamels:

http://www.alaintruong.com/archives/2012/08/12/24881335.html

And this one from Johan Auction that comperes even better with the darker toned green enamels:

http://www.johan.cn/goodsdetail.html?auctionid=2014YZ17&code=89&page=

While the green color on the box doesn't appear opaque to me, just more saturated, the red one does. But according to Koh Antique there is a variant of Ming wucai called 'Qinghua Wucai' from the Wanli period, that is characterized exactly by a generous use of iron red and a strong color tone of the enamels. Read about it here:

http://www.koh-antique.com/history/historyming2.htm

Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Bill H Tue, Jan 10, 2017

Here's the link to the Sotheby's gratis Auction Estimate Form and instructions for completing it. If they accept your box for an estimate, that means they believe it is worth at least US$5000. If they don't, it means they consider it to be worth much less than their time. If your box is Wanli mark & period, it's almost certain to be worth much more than five grand.

Good luck,

Bill H.

URL Title :Auction Estimate Form


Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Corey Tue, Jan 10, 2017

OK, thanks! I'll consider it.

Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Lee Tue, Jan 10, 2017

There are so many perfect replicas these days. the copy every aspect of every detail of a porcelain article it is a night are for auction houses and collectors. just say no provenance assume it is fake. they copy the construction, the foot the inside of the vase the luting the glaze the design the color is perfect these days but missing the rainbow hue in reflected light. apparently due to lead content in the glaze that develops through the glaze after a hundred years. your box is not one of those sophisticated fakes though, most collectors can tell it is new.

Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: JLim Wed, Sep 13, 2017



This is an interesting debate during my absence. I would point out Bill's insightful comment about the red enamel. I would add that it is not just the opacity that worries me, but the finish.

The red enamel looks extraordinarily matte in finish, like matte paint. If you look at the dragon's head in the first image, there is also a textured or bumpy quality that is even more worrying.

If the enamel is as old as Shakespeare (or even Sherlock Holmes) I would expect the unevennesses to have worn down, and for the matte finish to have sort of softened to satin.

Also, I know from personal experience that modern fakers have got very good at faking iridescence, so there goes another trustworthy "sign".

Rgds
JLim

Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Corey Sun, Sep 17, 2017

Many thanks for your reply and your sharp observation on the textured or bumpy quality of the red enamel at the dragon's head. I wondered about that too and first contributed this to "the generous use of iron red", charateristic for 'Qinghua Wucai', as it's quoted in the article from Koh Antique. Looks somewhat like a thick paste on the photographs. But your comment forced to research this further, and I did find some examples from Sotheby's with enamels that also have a similar uneven texture if you examine the pictures closely with the zoom-in function. This apperance seems to have been caused by a bubbling of the enamels in the firering process.

First example from Sotheby's:

http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2010/fine-chinese-ceramics-works-of-art-hk0323/lot.1865.html

Second example from Sotheby's:

http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2013/fine-chinese-ceramics-and-works-of-art-hk0461/lot.3007.html

Use the zoom-in function to look closly at the areas that I have encircled in the pictures attached to see what I mean.







Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: JLim Tue, Sep 19, 2017



Even Bushell defines Chinese enamels as possessing unevennesses of surface. Anthony Allen describes and pictures adequately the unevennesses caused by bubbling in the original enamel. I am not talking about these aspects of the enamel but about the gritty and rough surface of the red enamels on your piece, rather like a newly painted piece of lawn furniture the first few times you touch it. I disagree that the new photographs support your view.

Rgds
JLim

Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Corey Fri, Sep 22, 2017

I unpacked the box to check with a magnifying glass and it seems to me that most of the gritty and rough appearance of the red enamels is caused by bubbling, except for some of the places where there is a secondary line-up with a darker red, like in the mane of the green dragon. In some of these places the darker red line-up appear slightly raised or bumpy. It seems like a combination of these two aspects that causes the appearance of the enamel of the red dragons head.
But you've got to admit that the red enamel in the first photograph from Sotheby's also have both the opacity and the matte finish. Or is it my eyes there is something wrong with?

Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Corey Wed, Oct 04, 2017

Allow to express my gratítude for having provoked my stubbornness, that forced me to research the box further and led me to tree more auctions with similar boxes.

First one is the one that was sold at Sotheby's in 2002. (I had previously assumed it was the same as the one at the asemus-site):

http://auction.artron.net/paimai-art17940051/

Second is one sold by Shandong Jinghongtang Artwork Co., Ltd (山东景鸿堂艺术品有限公司) in 2006 (I'm particulary happy that I found this one since the decoration with the fat dragons compares well with the box I have:

http://auction.artxun.com/paimai-249-1240406.shtml

Third is one sold by Beijing Zhongjia International Auction Co., Ltd (北京中嘉国际拍卖有限公司) in 2009:

http://auction.artron.net/paimai-art90360419/













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Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Corey Mon, Oct 09, 2017

I find it particularly interesting how the three boxes from Sotheby's (picture at the top), the asemus-site (picture in the middle), and Shanghai Museum (picture at the bottom) compare with each other. As you can see all three are very similar in appearance. (The picture of the Sotheby's box is copied from different site with better reproduction of the colors than the the auction.artron-site linked to in my previous post.)







Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Corey Wed, Oct 11, 2017

I find it interesting how the fake box I linked to compare with the box sold by Beijing Zhongjia International Auction Co., Ltd. I suspect that box is fake too, and thet this is an auction house with fraudulent activities



Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Corey Fri, Oct 27, 2017

I had actually previously thought that the box in the asemus-site was in an English museum, but then I came across these two articles that says it's also in the Shanghai Museum:

http://antiquespublicity.com/2011/08/15/gemeentemuseum-den-haag-presents-imperial-porcelain-from-shanghai/

http://www.alaintruong.com/archives/2011/08/15/21794499.html

I find it noteworthy how the marks of the two boxes in that museum boxes compares to each other and are likely drawn by the same hand, and that the two boxes could possibly considered a pair even though they are not identical.





Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Lee Wed, Jan 11, 2017

the unfortunate things is that, the more one discuss about antiques on forums the better the fakes seem to evolve. now you get fakes with pitting on the rims, fritting broken bubbles rust spots etc The kangxi bases also have been copied i have seen fakes kangxi vases with bases just like the real ones. makes collecting a lot harder and more risky.have you seen the number of fake guangxu vases on circulation. and fakes with irridescence but i suspect they are weak ones not the typical strong irridescence found on old glazes.

Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Corey Thu, Jan 12, 2017

I hear you! But with all respect I think you contradict yourself. You say it's not a sophisticated fake, even though it has rim fritting, bubble bursts, iridescence, enamel loss, crazing of the enamels and scratches. And in at least one small area of the enameling there are visable gold flakes. So in my opinion it's a rather sophisticated fake if it truly is a fake. The thing about Bruun Rasmussen is that even though it's the most reputable auction house in Denmark I wouldn't rely on their expertise for chinese antiques. For example I also brought with me a very fine han dynasty calcified yellow jade scabbard slide that I bought back in 2003/2004 when good stuff was available at affordable prices where I was at that time. But the man there didn't want to sell it as old because he thought that the cutting edges were too sharp and the white tone of the calcification too even, which is nonsense. His rejection of this box was because the brightness of colors and and the rough feel of the rim of the lid. So I researched this and found several images from reliable sources where at least from the look of them they would feel rough to the touch. I havn't had the oppertunity to handle genuine Wanli pieces for comparison. Then there is the charecter in the lower left corner, the Zhi character, which is odd compared the Wanli six character marks I could find online, but I found Qing dynasty marks where it's is written in a similar manner. I have more or less decided with myself that the box might be a real one so I will probably have it TL-tested, eventually after a first hand examination by "real experts". If genuine it will be worth at least £100K/hk$1M, given the rarity of the piece (only three known similar examples according to Christie's catalogue), its fine condition and its vibrant colors.

Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Lee Fri, Jan 13, 2017

Hi Corey, the easiest way to find out is to send photos to both Christies and Sotheby's. if you hear back from them within a day or a week its good news if you don't hear back from them its bad news. Alternatively TL test it. i have pieces i bought a year ago that i am still wondering if they are real or fake. so good luck. The fakes are so good these day no books or so call experts can help you just have a look at Live auction and search out ming box see how many replicas there are. take your pick.

Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Corey Sat, Jan 14, 2017

And as usual the board havn't updated on weekends. Anyway - I wanted to mention that the iridescence only has a pale blue sheen with a subtle secundary golden tone, much like the colorplay of labradorite feldspar. But I just discovered that some areas of the white glaze has a full spectrum rainbow color iridescence. Like with the gold flecks I don't know if this is a good or a bad sign, but I found an old thread on this board on a song dynasty hare's fur bowl, where someone mentions that tiny gold flecks in the glaze can be a good sign:

http://asianart.com/phpforum/index.php?method=detailAll&Id=31655

And then I found a short article on chinese cloisonné that mentions something about embedding gold flecks in enamel and its relation to porcelain enamelling:

http://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/culture/cloisonne.htm

And finally a link to gotheborg.com that mentions a form of iridescence that is found on the clear porcelain glaze surface:

http://gotheborg.com/glossary/halo.shtml

So all in all I guess these are good signs!


Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Corey Mon, Jan 16, 2017

Yes, I agree that usually the easiest and certainly also the cheapest way to get qualified opinions from true experts would be Christie's and Sotheby's online auction estimate, but in this case I think I'll stick to the TL-test. If it's correct that the the rough feel of the rims and the bright colors are an exception to the rule, and there is a massive flow of those sophisticated fakes plus the fact that the box doesn't have a provenance but was bought online for a bargain, then they will probably also consider the likelihood of authenticity too small for a closer examination. There used to be at least one lab in Germany that could offer TL-testing for half the price of Oxford, so I'll probably contact them if they are still in business, and then only contact one of the major houses if I fell certain I have a good one. So far the box is packed for storage.

Thank you very much for your time and interest and my apologies if I sounded arrogant!

Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Anthony J Allen Thu, Jan 19, 2017

Hi Corey,
This lidded dish of yours is porcelain, not pottery or stoneware, so I doubt Oxford will TL test it.
The enamels look too bright for Wanli and the underglaze blue is the wrong hue, and the dragon scales incorrectly painted.
Conclusion; Modern
Regards
Tony

Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Corey Fri, Jan 20, 2017

They have a chapter on porcelain sampling on their website, so I assume TL-testing could be an opportunity? I'm not the one to judge if the tone of the blue glaze is incorrect. I just did some online searches, and found a couple of examples with intense blue glazes I thought looked similar. And also checked with the dragon scales. One painted with overlapping circles. The rest with zigzag patterns. Looked correct to me.

Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Cory Sat, Jan 21, 2017

Here is a better picture where you can see the details of the blue dragon. It would be awesome if you could explain in which ways the dragon scales are incorrectly painted.



Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Corey Sat, Jan 21, 2017

BTW I also got this wucai cup in from the same seller who had listed it as Japanese, but I think it could be an auspicious marked Jiajing/Wanli period piece. Problem is that I can't tell if the writing of the mark is Japanese or Chinese, so any help with the interpretation of it would be very welcome. The style of the dragons matches Jiajing in particular. The enamels are thinner and the colors not as bright as on the lidded box. The rims are smooth to the touch except for the rim of the lid which have a very slightly rough feel to it. The porcelain itself is very fine quality.







Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Corey Wed, Jan 25, 2017

Stumbled upon this site belonging to a legendary Japanese dealer. It's very interesting that Jiajing and Wanli imperial ware once sometimes were even higher valued than Yongle and Xuande imperial wares. Exhibition catalogues can be read online:

http://www.mayuyama.jp/en/exhibitions/

Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Corey Sun, Jan 29, 2017

Adding the remaining photos of my wucai cup for the viewing pleasure. It really amazes me how fine the porcelain is, entirely flawless except for two very tiny fireing faults to the rim.





Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Corey Wed, Feb 01, 2017

At last I found the one that is in Shanghai museum:

http://www.360doc.com/content/14/0627/13/13708883_390241732.shtml

And an example of a brand new fake:

http://www.mgold.cn/m/cqzr/kaimenpin/11-6-5-37823.html

Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Bill H Thu, Feb 02, 2017

My apologies if you've already come across the following auction result for a Wanli-style box sold in a lot with a Qianlong-style vase in 2013. The US$350 result is a decorative wares price I'd think most collectors might take as a sign of disinterest on the part of Chinese bidders who have recognized these boxes as contemporary copies.

Bill H.

URL Title :Auction Result Wucai Box


Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Corey Fri, Feb 03, 2017

No, I haven't seen that on. Thanks for posting the link. It's always good to have a few examples for comparison. $350 seems like a good result if they are post 1990 copies. The Japanese dealer these two pieces were purchased from have had several very interesting listings with 19/20 centery apocryphally Wanli marked wucai items during the last couple of years. Both with Chinese and Japanese creations. None of the Chinese ones were described as old but these two stood out as I recognized the decoration style, shape, foot ring etc. as correct for the Jiajing/Wanli period, which I got confirmed when I first came across the one at the asemus museum site. I'll probably bring the Jiajing cup to Bruun Rasmussen to get their opinion. While I don't think I can convince them it's a the Ming dynasty piece, they might accept it as a Qing dynasty copy.


Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Corey Fri, Oct 27, 2017

After I took the box up for reconsideration triggered by the comment of JLim, I by coincidence came across a Chinese site with a vase identical (picture attached below) to one of those 19th-20th century Wanli marked wucai vases sold by the same Japanese dealer the box in focus was purchased from:

http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_5f0c4e0d0102efvg.html

This is the kind of decoration that appeared on several other apocryphally Wanli marked wucai objects that has been sold by various Japanese dealers during the past 4 years. Very beautiful and definitely collectable pieces, that could possibly gain a profit if sold through western auction houses. This ewer for example had a pre-sale estimate at $300 - $500:

https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/46858290_chinese-doucai-porcelain-teapot-ming-wanli-mark

A similar ewer (lot no. 96A) that sold in an American auction for $750 even though it had a repairment, but probably because the description gives the impression that it's a Wanli period example, which it is not:

http://www.burchardgalleries.com/auctions/1999/jan2499/jan2499r.htm






Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Corey Fri, Sep 29, 2017

I just came across this site that contains additional and higher quality photos of the lidded box at Shanghai Museum plus photos of a Wanli mark and period lidded jar that has a similar one at the Oxford Museum (the Asemus-site):

http://www.360doc.com/content/16/0202/22/2280746_532374193.shtml

Suchs a jar was also available at Marchant Auctions, from wher the pictures attached below are copied.





Subject:Re: Possibly Wanli mark and period - or possibly not?
Posted By: Corey Mon, Oct 09, 2017

Seems like I posted only pictures of the lid and the base by a mistake, so here are three additional pictures of the bowl plus a direct link to the actual sale at marchant:

http://marchantauctions.hibid.com/lot/30305892/-1-chinese-porcelain-dragon-jar-wanli-mark/?cpage=2&ref=catalog

$850 sounds like a very advantageous price for such a piece although I suspect that the lid is not the original one ...








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