19. Romantic Dish
Large Dish with a Garden Scene and Astrological Sky
China, Kangxi (1662-1722), circa 1700
Diameter: 37,4 cm
Price on request
This large dish - decorated in an intense underglaze blue - has a central scene surrounded by a decorative band with four items from the ‘Hundred Treasures’ pattern.
The central scene on the dish, is of a nocturnal courtyard, where a couple stands under a vine trellis. Through the window on the right side, a family is seen seated at a table with a tea brewing set, a lit candle and some books in a sitting room. Amongst them, a man seems to be telling stories and the rest - three young and an older lady - form his attentive audience. The stars in the sky, are drawn in astrological forms . The moon is emerging from clouds in the upper part of the scene. Railings and trees are revealed through the gate on the left and the tiled zigzag walls on the right, suggest what the viewer sees is only part of a much larger estate.
The characters - dressed in Ming style - are arranged in a fashion to appeal to western tastes and the scene as a whole, is not based on any specific Chinese literary tale. However, the combination of grape vines and astrological skies, does reflect a tradition that people under grape vines at night can hear murmured conversations between Niulang (a cattle herder) and Zhinü (a weaving girl). They are legendary figures in a Chinese romance, who become two stars that are separated by the Milky Way and can meet only once a year on Qixi (the seventh of July), the ‘Valentine’s Day’ in China.
Private Collection, The Netherlands