Subastas Darley


Large dragon fishbowl, blue and white, Ming dynasty, Longqing (1567 - 1572)

Awarded For. 110.000 €
Lot 115.

明隆庆 (1567-1572) 青花海水云龙戏珠纹大缸

A large porcelain vat with a circular base, also flat on the inside, which supports the slightly arched walls of the piece. The shape is crowned by a mouth, with a flattened and thickened rim, which emerges outwards. The shape is not perfectly regular, with some oscillation in the profile. This type of fish-bowl, known as a Chinese fish tank (Gāng 缸) or 'fish-bowl', is a special product for holding fish, either to observe them or to contain water. 

The decoration is executed in cobalt-blue, underglaze and on a white ground, and mainly depicts dragon patterns. In addition, on the outer rim there is a line of ancient coins and on the upper face a succession of arabesques between a double ring. The use of these colours is influenced by Taoism. The shade of blue used to represent the dragons' hair is notable in this period for its richness and lustre. 

The piece has a main decorative band around the outer wall with two pairs of five-clawed imperial dragons of vivid, powerful and fierce form. They are surrounded by auspicious clouds, swaying and coiling, and set above a raging, crashing sea. Each group goes in search of a flaming pearl of wisdom, on a sacred mountain, in opposite postures and their bodies curled up. This scene represents the concept "四海升平" which could be translated as "the four seas are at peace" or "universal peace".

The dragon patterns of the Jiajing and Longqing periods usually have arched heads, windmill-shaped claws, curved wavy tails and raised manes. Their expression is exaggerated because the eyes protrude slightly. Such depictions are seen to a greater size on blue and white porcelain.


Max. height: 40 cm; Max. mouth diameter: 74 cm.

Texts or inscriptions:

It has an official Longqing inscription of six characters horizontally, placed along the inner mouth, executed in underglaze blue, which reads '大明隆庆年造' (Dàmíng lóngqìng nián zào), translated as 'Made in Longqing of the Ming dynasty'. In this period, regular script inscriptions abound, and not so much seal marks. On large objects such as dragon bowls, inscriptions placed near the mouth were the preferred choice.


European private collection, Switzerland. Dr. Jacques Louis Crausaz (1933, Lausanne, Switzerland – 2023, Barcelona, Spain) specialist doctor in Human Body Biochemistry, Medicine (Lausanne, Switzerland), Psychiatry (Paris, France), Neurology and Biochemistry at (Harward, USA) and researcher in space medicine, between 1970 - 1992, "Operative of the Conquest of Space" for NASA (Houston, USA). Due to his research on natural medicine, he traveled to many countries around the world, including China, where he acquired many of the pieces from his collection.

Dr. Jacques Louis Crausaz was a specialist in Human Body Biochemistry pioneer in great findings of his profession and extraordinary person. Also, Doctor in Medicine (Lausanne, Switzerland), Psychiatry (Paris, France), Neurology and Biochemistry (Harward, USA) and researcher in space medicine, between 1970 - 1992, "Space Conquest Operative" for NASA (Houston, USA). The Doctor always maintained that "all that I have been" was thanks to his study tutor, Mr. John Gaillou, for guiding and advancing his preparation and academic level at the early age of 7, as well as to the important investments of the Swiss authorities in his "studies, works and materials" guaranteed during his first scientific researches. 

"I was fortunate to be guided masterfully by Mr. John Gaillou". After years of tough examinations and a firm confidentiality contract, Dr Crausaz was chosen as an "active member" of the Space Conquest Operation "Space Warfare", taking charge and leading the team of researchers in Houston, Houston. Over a long period of 22 years (1970-1992), Dr. Crausaz was challenged to conquer space, setting as a goal to achieve the development of what is now known as "Space Medicine". Technicians, specialists, engineers and mechanics of all kinds created transportation devices, which they called "rockets" or "spacecraft", capable of taking man... "out of the Earth Space". However, these findings gave rise to a singular question whose answer would take Dr. Crausaz years of research: 'What are the absolutely essential needs of a human being for him to survive outside the Earth's atmosphere on an unknown planet?' 

"I must say that "luck" helped me, since in 1970 (I was 36 years old) I was in the right place, at the right time, and with the right preparation to be hired in 1974 [...] I developed then... and until today... a job that I could never have even thought of doing, but that I have really lived, thanks to the important "evolution" that we have all experienced, [.... The ambitious decision to achieve what has been called "The Conquest of Space" has provoked in the minds of those responsible for this "operation" the obligation to create "the means" to make humans survive that we will call "astronauts"... "OUTSIDE" the Terrestrial Atmosphere and who will be charged with the responsibility of "conquering" this unknown world that are "the planets" that it will then be decided to try to dominate. That is to say: to conquer." "[...] and I consider it very important to draw attention to what follows (but which is not so "spectacular" in the eyes of the world in general) and which is kept in the background [...] I want here to quote "other types of specialists" who have been entrusted with the responsibility of trying to create what is called today "Space Medicine" which corresponds to the means of making "a Human Being" survive "outside"... of our Terrestrial Atmosphere." -Dr. Jacques Louis Crausaz, The Evolution of My Own Life (Autobiography, 2010).

Throughout Dr. Crausaz's career, his wife Maite, although she also graduated in Medicine at Harward (USA), acted as his personal secretary. As a great lover of art and an excellent painter, Maite Crausaz made many works and exhibited in galleries in many countries (Holland, Switzerland, USA, etc.) and she transmitted her passion to Dr. Crausaz. Dr. Crausaz's medical research was then accompanied by countless long trips all over the world, moments taken advantage of to enrich himself with the local culture, art and antiques. 

In his many years of travels, Dr. Crausaz was always in the company of local people, whether they were researchers, doctors, politicians or members of the military. Thanks to these influences, it was relatively easy for him to buy all the objects that interested him, and little by little the Crausaz home, located on the beach of Castelldefels (Barcelona, Spain), was flooded with art from Africa, the United States, Europe, Asia, etc. 

The millenary Chinese natural medicine was always praised and studied by Dr. Crausaz. He was, therefore, repeatedly in China from 1976 to 1990, link with some of the pieces of his collection. For the Doctor it was not a 'collection', but a sample of materials for the conservation of natural medicines (see plants, cereals or medicines of animal origin) used in ancient Chinese culture. Dr. Crausaz always mentioned the importance of the materials of the containers and vessels used to preserve natural medicines, pointing out that the porosity of the minerals and earth from specific places used in ancient manufacturing with clays, ceramics and porcelains favored the human body, contrary to modern plastics.

The exact origin of his 'non-collection' is still an unknown since Dr. Crausaz always laughingly replied with his extraordinary smile and intellectual humor: "You know that for 'shadow space research' and my 'TOP SECRET' confidentiality contract I can't tell you... I was trained as a lethal weapon!" -Dr. Jacques Louis Crausaz


The Ming Longqing Dynasty (1567 - 1572) had a shorter duration of only six years, during which time the Jingdezhen area suffered from flooding. The government decided to open private kilns, which stimulated the development of popular kilns. Therefore, the blue and white products of the Longqing folk kilns are similar to the porcelain of the official kiln. The official kilns of Longqing were less and their product is remarkable.

Blue and white porcelain stood out as a major product of the official kilns. In the case of dragon fishbowls they follow the Jiajing style with generally larger dimensions, richer and more elegant decorations, which would be continued in the Wanli period. A very representative example is in the Palace Museum in Beijing.

From the 15th century the imperial porcelain factory was established at the Jingdezhen kilns and increasingly produced more and more blue and white pieces. In fact, those produced during the Ming dynasty have managed to stand out from other periods. Materials were carefully selected and the technology of the kilns had been perfected. The motivation to improve technique in Jingdezhen was due, in part, to the desire to emulate and surpass the achievements of the past.

Porcelain made in their kilns was famed in the royal courts of the Middle East, Mughal India and Europe as exclusive possessions. From the 16th century onwards, its export porcelain, expanded as a more widely available commodity, as contact between China and the West increased.


- National Museum of China, "Cultural Relics Collection Research Series" Porcelain Volume (Ming Dynasty), Shanghai Antique Box Publishing House, 2007, p.163. Figure 88.

- Christie's Hong Kong, auction: 16043, 27 November 2017, lot 8102 "AN EXCEEDINGLY RARE MASSIVE BLUE AND WHITE DRAGON BASIN".

- Christie's, 28 April 1997, lot 674.


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