Freeman’s is privileged to present the collection of Chinese and Southeast Asian ceramics assembled by Mr. & Mrs. Gaylord and Pamela Watkins in the Sept. 9 Asian Arts auction in Philadelphia. The collection, almost completely assembled in Singapore, is of note for the fine array of Chinese ceramics dating from the Tang dynasty through the Qing dynasty, and particularly with regards to Song dynasty and Ming dynasty black, brown, celadon and white-glazed wares. What makes the collection more unusual, is the representative selection of Southeast Asian wares. This includes the products of Vietnamese, Thai and Burmese kilns. Several of these Southeast Asian pieces have been published and discussed in “Southeast Asian ceramics, New Light on Old Pottery” edited by John Miksic, professor, Department of Southeast Asian studies, National University of Singapore.
Highlights of the Chinese ceramics include Song, Jin and Yuan dynasty black-glazed wares such as two attractive Jin/Yuan dynasty globular bottle vases boldly painted with stylized birds, a related “guan” jar, and a fine five dynasties/northern Song Ewer. Additional Song ceramics include a rare “persimmon”-glazed “Ding” ware bowl and cover and a “Yaozhou” molded celadon “chrysanthemum” conical bowl.
The Southeast Asian ceramics are diverse, illustrating a broad range of types and forms. These include an elegant Vietnamese white-glazed “lotus” jar and cover, Ly dynasty, 13th-14th century, several Vietnamese blue and white-decorated dishes, boxes and vessels influenced by Yuan and Ming dynasty blue and white porcelains, two rare Burmese green-decorated white-glazed bowls and a broad range of Thai dishes and vessels from the Sawankhalok, Phan and Kalong kilns. These Thai ceramics include celadon dishes inspired by the dishes and bowls of the Longquan kilns of Song, Yuan and early Ming China which were so widely treasured by the societies of maritime Asia and the Middle East.
The collection is rounded out by additional Chinese and southeast Asian ceramics, further reminding us of the international trade which was carried out along the coasts of the south China sea, including examples of so-called “Swatow” Chinese blue and white porcelain bowls (closely modeled on the well-known Jingdezhen porcelains of the 16th and 17th centuries) and the large brown-glazed stoneware “Martaban” jars so important in transporting oils, spices, perfumes, foods and even smaller ceramics in the coastal trade between southern China, Indonesia, Malaysia and beyond to India, the East African coast and the Middle East. Additionally, an attractive collection of huanghuali furniture, large Burmese and Laotion gilt wood figures of Buddha and additional furniture and decorative arts from the Watkins collection will be offered Sept. 9.
Freeman’s is pleased to have been given the rare opportunity to present such a diverse collection, which not only illustrates the rich trade links forged between the societies and cultures from the 10th-17th centuries East Asia, but which also serves as a tribute to the eye of the collectors, who so carefully assembled a group of works as aesthetically pleasing as they are reminders of the history of this important region of the world.