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Water-dropper

Category

Ceramics

Date

918 AD - 1392

Materials

Stoneware with iron oxide pigments under a celadon-coloured glaze

Measurements

100 mm (H)

Place of origin

Korea

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Collection

Clandon Park, Surrey

NT 1440455

Summary

[Salvaged] Water dropper in the form of a Mandarin duck, stoneware, formed in a mould, the head turned slightly left, carved and incised with details to indicate feathers. An opening in the dorsal area has a lotus-shaped collar. The detail of the eyes painted under the glaze in brown iron oxide, and the entire dropper covered in a thick pale green or celadon (jade-like) glaze, pooling to a bottle green in the details, and heavily crackled. The glazed base has four unglazed patches indicating the location of kiln supports broken off after firing; their purpose was to keep the glaze from adhering to the kiln floor. Made in kilns in Gangjin or Buan county, Jeollanam-do province, south west Korea, during the Goryeo (Koryo) period (918–1392), around the 12th century or later. A chip in the side was touched up with dark green paint and the collar with an old Japanese gold lacquer repair, both details lost in the fire at Clandon Park on 29 April 2015. Comparables: Gansong Art Museum, Seoul Korea, a fine model probably made at the Gaeseong kilns, near Gaeseong, Gyeonggi-do (Deoksu-648-0); Museum of Fine Arts Boston, 50.964, formerly in the collection of Joseph Leiter (1868–1932); another similar model, possibly from the same workshop, is in the Freer Art Gallery, Washington DC, (F1909.24), purchased by Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), from Yamanaka & Company, New York City, in 1909. At least two reproductions are known in public collections: 1) Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (C.121-1984), donated by G. St. G. M. Gompertz (Dr. Chewon Kim and G. St. G.M. Gompertz, The Ceramic Art of Korea, London, 1961) and identified as such in Yun, Yong-I. Krahl, Regina. Pak Youngsook. Whitfield, Roderick. Korean Art from the Gompertz and Other Collections in the Fitzwilliam Museum, A Complete Catalogue, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. p.157, no. 88 2) Freer Art Gallery, Washington, D. C. (F1991.16) Provenance: Gift of Mrs. David (Hannah) Gubbay in 1968.

Full description

Water droppers were used by Asian scholars to create and dilute ink for calligraphy and painting. Ink was stored as a solid stick, and when required it was ground on an inkstone, a slab with a mortar-like sunken recess (see for example NT 1335986). Water droppers were filled with water through the lotus-collared hole on the back and issued out of the spout when tipped to add liquid to the ink powder. More water was added to dilute it to create paler tones and washes. Objects used by scholars were often in inventive shapes. Throughout Asia mandarin ducks represent peace, fidelity, and plentiful offspring. As they mate for life they are sometimes associated with marriage.

Provenance

Bequeathed to the National Trust in 1968 by Mrs Hannah Gubbay

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