Chinese porcelain famille verte, wucai rouleau vase painted with a scene from Cailou Ji (The Bunted Loft), in which the young impoverished scholar Lü Mengzheng, is seated on the edge of a well head dressed in patchwork robes and will shortly catch the embroidered ball thrown by the wealthy heiress, Liu Yue’e.
She is depicted standing on the balcony in front of a table and a landscape screen beside her attendants, with a multitude of scholar suiters standing beneath, all amongst pine trees, wutong, rockwork and the roof of a pavilion, beneath a wide band on the shoulder with love birds, their open wings and beaks touching on a floral diaper on two different floral diaper grounds, the neck with two panels each with a bird perched on a branch amongst aster, bamboo and pinks, with an iron-red seal of zhushi ju, ‘the lodge of bamboo and rock’, beneath the gilt sun, all on a cash diaper ground, the upright galleried rim with a triangular diaper, the base with a green glazed wash.
18 1/2 inches, 47 cm high.
Overall excellent condition with no chips or cracks, three short glaze shrinkage lines above foot rim which extend over the foot rim, natural grizzle shrinkage to the mouth.
Provenance & Additional Information
• From a Belgian private collection.
• Sold by Christie’s Paris in their auction of Art d’Asie, 13th December 2017, lot 64, p. 52.
• Lü Mengzheng (946-1011) became a high official of the Song dynasty. His father and grandfather before him had also been officials. Due to him being thrown out by his parents, he lived in poverty during his student days.
• Several Ming plays were written about him. Most well-known are Fengxue Poyao Ji (Wind and Snow in a Dilapidated Kiln) and Cailou Ji (The Bunted Loft) and the Miao folk song from Hainan, The Song of Lü Mengzheng.
• In the scene on this rouleau, the millionaire from Luoyang, Liu, seeks a husband for his daughter, Liu Yue’e. She pledges to marry whoever catches her embroidered ball and it falls to the poor student Lü Mengzheng. Her father refuses to accept the match and the young couple are left in poverty and subsequently have their wedding gifts stolen. He leaves her for ten years and becomes a magistrate in Luoyang but tests her loyalty by returning as a poor student. Th e play ends with all family members in a grand reunion.
• Although not identical, a similar reserve panel of love birds on the shoulder of a famille verte rouleau vase, formerly in the collection of Edward R. Bacon, New York, 1919, sold by Parish-Watson, New York, 1923, is illustrated by Anthony du Boulay in The Taft Museum: Its History and Collections, VOLUME II, collection no. 1931.142, p. 635/6.