Song dynasty The exquisitely potted dish of shallow form with gently ribbed sides rising to a barbed foliate rim, applied with a delicate lavender blue glaze thinning at the extremities. 11.5cm diam.
Provenance: Collection of Lord Rolf Cunliffe Collection of Professor and Mrs P.H. Plesch Sotheby's London, 12 July 2006, lot 39
Exhibited: The Oriental Ceramic Society, Exhibition of Ju and Kuan Wares, London, 1952, p.11, no.19 The Oriental Ceramic Society, Chun and Brown Glazes, London, 1952, cat. no.78
Lord Rolf Cunliffe (1899-1963) was a prominent mid-twentieth century English collectors of Chinese ceramics and works of art. His purchases were almost all sourced from existing English and European collections. He lived in the heart of London just a few steps from the famous dealers Bluett and Sons and John Sparks. His first purchases were from Bluett and Sons on 30 November 1944, and he proceeded to puchase a total of over four hundred pieces over the next twenty years. After Cunliffe's death, Bluett and Sons prepared a brief valuation of some 600 items, of which some were sold in 1971 and 1973. The remainder of the Cunliffe collection was sold in our London rooms on 11 November 2002. The highlight of the collection was a Chenghua blue and white 'palace' bowl, purchased at the sale by Eskenazi Ltd., and subsequently included in their Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition: Twelve Masterpieces of Chinese Art, or Porcelain, Gold, Silver, Bronze and Stone, from the 10th century BC to the Yongzheng reign, London, November 2010, cat. no. 9; and recently illustrated in the Xiling Collection, June 2011, p. 40, no.16.
Lord Cunliffe was a prominent member of the Oriental Ceramic Society from 1946, and later took up the post of Honorary Keeper of the Oriental Department of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge in 1960. It was his close relationship and generosity to the Oriental Ceramic Society which led to various exhibitions of his collection, notably lending twenty-one pieces to the society's Song exhibition in 1949. During these series of shows, the current lot was featured in two Song exhibitions in 1952.
Professor Peter Hariolf Plesch (b.1918), friend and doctor of Albert Einstein, left Frankfurt with his father in 1933. Educated at Harrow School and Trinity College, Cambridge University, he was fascinated by Chinese glass and had the billiard room in his house converted into a private museum. Also a collector of Song pieces and a frequent member of the Oriental Ceramic Society, he once lent a ruyao narcissus bowl he purchased from the J.T. Tai collection to the society's Song exhibition. As a collector of Chinese glass, the glass-like quality and its superior thick creamy lavender glaze of the current lot would surely have caught Plesch's gaze when he first acquired it. The superior quality of the glaze is comparable to a similar Junyao dish with foliated sides in the Sir Percival David collection, illustrated in Song Ceramics. Objects of Admiration, London, 2003, pp.46-47, no.13. See also a Guanyao piece of similar shape in the Sir Percival David collection, illustrated ibid, p.122-123, no.48, and another in Song Ceramics from the Kwan Collection, Hong Kong, 1994, p.40-41, no.2.