- Museum number
Porcelain bowl inscribed with a poem and decorated in underglaze blue. Heavily potted and standing on a broad 'bi'-disc foot ring, this blue-and-white bowl has an unusual profile. It has rounded sides which turn inwards before flaring out at the brown-painted rim. Inside in the centre is an underglaze blue apocryphal four-character Yongle reign mark, written in the style of the court calligrapher Shen Du. Surrounding this and repeated around the inner rim is a border showing spindly flowers separated by spirals on a striped blue ground. Inside the foot is an illegible four-character seal mark in underglaze blue. Outside an abbreviated version of the Northern Song dynasty prose poem 'Chi bi fu' [Rhapsody on Red Cliff] by Su Shi (1037-1101) is transcribed in clear 'kaishu' script in underglaze blue. At the end of the prose poem is an image of a boating party. Beneath the boat's canopy are three men, two seated at a low table with wine cups and another approaching them with a wine cup. A boatman stands beside a woman at the back of the craft and steers the shallow boat with a pole. The image represents Su Shi, also known as Su Dongpo, the intellectual poet and wit, with his guests
on an excursion, drifting beneath the Red Cliffs down the Yangzi River near Su Shi's exile home of Hangzhou in the summer of 1082.
- Production date
Diameter: 16 centimetres
Height: 9.20 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Harrison-Hall 2001:
The image and the poem are copied from a Ming woodblock-printed illustrated edition of the poem.
Bowls with this type of 'Red Cliff' decoration are dated by reference to European still-life oil paintings in which they are featured. Almost identical bowls are depicted in two paintings of the same title, "Les Cinq Sens", both by the artist Jacques Linard, one signed and dated 1627 and the other signed and dated 1638. In these works the bowls are used for containing whole fresh fruits. Further evidence for dating comes from a 'Red Cliff' bowl in a private collection with a Tianqi mark (1620-7). In addition to Europe, such 'Red Cliff' bowls were exported to the Middle East, as evidenced by two examples in the Topkapi Saray Collection in Istanbul. One of these has the same profile as the present piece, while the other is more rounded like BM Franks.810. See also BM Franks.812.
- On display (G1/wp144)
- Associated titles
Associated Title: Ode on the Red Cliff
- Registration number