AN EXCEPTIONAL CHINESE 'OIL-SPOT' (YOUDIYOU) GLAZED WAN BOWL, of gently rounded form, the rich dark brown glaze suffused with numerous small silvery markings, pooling more thickly in places, the lower body and foot unglazed, Northern Song - Jin Dynasty, 11.5cm diameter.

Provenance: The James Baird Collection. Bluett and Sons London 1926. 

George de Menasce Collection.Spink and Son Ltd London 1975.

An Important Private Collection of Chinese and other East Asian Art.

Exhibited: Oriental Ceramic Society Exhibition 1952. Mostra d'Arte Cinese Venezia 1954.

This bowl is a rare and superb example of the 'oil-spot' technique developed by Northern Song potters, where tiny metallic particles added to the glaze settle near the surface during firing to produce a variety of stunning yet subtle effects reminiscent of the iridescent patches found on the surface of oil. The term 'oil-spot' actually derives from Japanese connoisseurship, where such glazes have been highly prized since at least the first half of the 15th century, being referred to as yuteki temmoku (oil-spot temmoku). Northern Song potters probably first experimented with the technique to imitate and compete with their Southern Song counterparts. Within the oil-spot group there exists a variety of effects, which can be classified according to the arrangement, shape and size of the spots. The present lot has numerous small spots which might be best described as resembling snowflakes because of their shape and individuality. This revelation of great beauty upon close inspection summarises so much that is noble in connoisseurship of Song Dynasty ceramics. The provenance of this bowl is also of great interest. It was sold by Bluetts in 1926 as part of the James Baird Collection (see illustration) to Baron George de Menasce for £200. A commentary about the exhibition from The Morning Post on May 25th 1926 mentions the bowl and shows how highly regarded it was at the time: "... a small tea bowl of greyish stoneware, with a black "oil spot" glaze of high quality, probably from Honan, is an outstanding piece of this type of ware." 

Examples of Northern Song oil-spot bowls can be found in major collections. For a comparable pair of slightly deeper bowls with larger spots from the Arthur M Sackler Museum see 'Hare's Fur, Tortoiseshell, and Partridge Feathers' by Robert Mowry et al, 1996, no. 44, pp. 150-152. A slightly smaller example appeared at Sotheby's Hong Kong on 5th April 2015, lot 2888.
Sold For £46000.00 In The Asian Art Sale: In Pursuit of the Scholar - Sale Date 12th November 2015

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