The Asian Works of Art sale will be conducted on September 17 at our Chicago office.
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The Stanley Field Early Ming Bowl
Included in our September 17 Asian Works of Art auction is an early Ming bowl once owned by Stanley Field of the Field family. Read more about its story below or visit the catalogue page for further information.
THE STANLEY FIELD EARLY MING BOWL
Despite lasting only ten years, the Xuande emperor’s reign was especially known for the prolific production of porcelain wares bearing his name. The quality and forms of these blue and white pieces marks a new appreciation for domestic imperial Ming wares as opposed to the vessels of the previous Yongle reign (1403-1424) that were mostly designated for trade and tribute.
The unique hexafoil shape of the present bowl may have been inspired by earlier Song Dynasty ceramics. Because of their delicate form and elegant design, these bowls have been admired and sought after by connoisseurs and institutions of Chinese art throughout the 20th century.
This early Ming bowl once belonged to Stanley Field (1875-1964), the renowned Chicago philanthropist, banker, civic leader and businessman. His uncle Marshall Field (1836-1906) was the founder of Marshall Field and Company, the largest wholesale and retail operation in the world during the latter half of the 19th century.
The Field family was also responsible for developing the Field Museum of Natural History and donating the grounds to the University of Chicago. Stanley Field’s father Joseph (Marshall’s brother) was based in England and in charge of sourcing European merchandise for the family business.
Even though Stanley Field worked for Marshall Field and Company throughout his life – from a messenger boy to a top executive – one of his passions was in showcasing Chicago on the international stage. His greatest civic achievements included establishing transcendent spaces like Grant Park and Shedd Aquarium.
Some of Stanley Field’s most important work came during his 58-year tenure as the president of the Field Museum of Natural History. It was during these years that the museum transformed itself from a modest anthropological museum containing holdover objects from the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago to one of the leading museums in the world.
Stanley Field approved numerous field expeditions, where renowned anthropologists would travel to remote locations on every continent to gather archaeological artifacts from past civilizations. The anthropologist in charge of the China expeditions was the famed German Dr. Berthold Laufer (1874-1934). Fluent in numerous East Asian languages including Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan and Mongolian, Laufer was the curator of Anthropology at the Field Museum from 1908 until his sudden death in 1934. He led the museum’s Blackstone Exhibition in 1908 and the Captain Marshall Field Expedition in 1923.
In total, these trips brought back over 19,000 Chinese objects for the museum.
Similar examples of this type of bowl can be found in many major museums around the world including the Palace Museum, Beijing; the National Palace Museum, Taipei; the Shanghai Museum; the David Collection, London; the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco and the Art Institute of Chicago.
Over the past ten years, similar examples of this lobed bowl have been sold at auction including an example from the Collection of a Japanese Pharmaceutical Company, purchased from Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 10 April 2006, lot 1660, and sold again at Sotheby’s New York ‘Ming: The Intervention of Imperial Taste’, 14 March 2017, lot 7; one from The Pilkington Collection of Chinese Art sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 6 April 2016, lot 20; another formerly from the Manno Museum Osaka, purchased from Christie’s Hong Kong, 24 April 2004, lot 952, was sold again at Christie’s Hong Kong ‘The Imperial Sale: Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art’, 31 May 2010, lot 1856; and finally, an example reputedly from the Summer Palace, Beijing, formerly from the collection of K. L. Dawes, John F. Woodthorpe, Frederick M. Mayer, and sold at Christie’s London, 24 June 1974, lot 90, sold again at Sotheby’s Hong Kong ‘The Meiyintang Collection Part II’, 5 October 2011, lot 12.