The pieces selected below are from the Ming dynasty, and sealed with the Chenghua mark. The Ming dynasty was the longest ruling dynasty in China, its influence spread to all parts of Asia including Korea, Siam, Japan and Sri Lanka. The Ming dynasty included the reign of 16 emperors, with Chenghua ruling from 1465 to 1487.

540x360-5 A set of four Chinese doucai interlocking cups, with six character Chenghua mark to bases, decorated with continuous polychrome scenes of birds and foilage, having painted leaf bands to bases, the lids painted with further foilage.

66570 A Chinese doucai chicken vase of ovoid form having moulded rim with six character Chenghua mark to base, the body decorated with continous scene of chickens and foilage above a lotus border to base.

66533 A Chinese doucai vase of baluster form with dragon decoration and six character Chenghua mark to base within a double circle, the body with frieze of blue and yellow dragons on scrolled foilage framed by further floral bands, the waisted neck with border of painted leaves.

Portrait of Emperor Huizong of Ming Dynasty China Portrait of Emperor Huizong of Ming Dynasty China

Many historians believe that during the Chenghua period all marks were written by one calligrapher, with some historians owing the crude appearance of the mark to the fact that when Emperor Chenghua was young when he first signed for the mark. As well as the thickness of the stamp the tails on the characters are also a defining feature of the mark.

The next piece from the sale, is a delicate doucai chicken cup which bears the Mark of Emperor Yongzheng. Emperor Yongzheng was the third emperor from the Qing dynasty rule (1644-1912) and he ruled from 1723 to 1735. The Qing dynasty aimed to restore Chinese culture and to encourage a pride in Chinese heritage.

A Chinese doucai chicken cup decorated with a naive rooster & hen with their young chicks in continuous scene, with Mark of Emperor Yongzheng A Chinese doucai chicken cup decorated with a naive rooster & hen with their young chicks in continuous scene, with Mark of Emperor Yongzheng

Emperor Yongzheng was 44 years old when he came to power, and reigned for 13 years. Yongzheng was one of 20 of former Emperor Kangxi's sons, history notes strong rivalries between the siblings, so much so that Yongzheng considered it vital to give imperial heirs a proper education if they were take the throne. He imposed that all imperial heirs were taught inside the Forbidden City where they were educated by the best Chinese teachers on the morals of Confucius.

Portrait of the Yongzheng Emperor in Court Dress, by anonymous court artists, Yongzheng period (1723—35). Hanging scroll, colour on silk. The Palace Museum, Beijing. Portrait of the Yongzheng Emperor in Court Dress, by anonymous court artists, Yongzheng period (1723—35). Hanging scroll, colour on silk. The Palace Museum, Beijing.

During his reign, the nature of how Yongzheng came to the throne was rife with rumours. To prohibit such controversy surrounding future leaders, he began the practice of keeping the name of the next heir in a box in Qianqing hall, which was only to be opened once the current emperor had passed.

All Chinese ceramics featured will be included in Railton's sale on 14th May, 2016. Check all lots on Barnebys here.

Comment