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Catalog Data

Porcelain with cobalt blue glaze
H x Diam: 4.5 × 25 cm (1 3/4 × 9 7/8 in)
Jingdezhen ware
Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province, China
Ming dynasty, Jiajing reign
Monochrome. Dish with plain flaring rim.
Clay: fine white porcelain.
Glaze: plain, deep, strong blue with fine crackle; plain transparent under base.
Decoration: incised in paste, a dragon en face amid clouds in the center, two dragons pursuing flaming pearls in cavetto. Same two dragons on outside above a row of lotus panels.
Chow inventory number written in Chinese on plate’s box label: no. 69 which is crossed-out and changed to no. 105.
?-no later than 1945
Possibly Jacob E. Melchior (1879-1945), method of acquisition unknown [1]
By 1945-1952
Edward T. Chow (1910-1980), likely purchased from Jacob E. Melchior [2]
About 1950-1952
Mathias Komor, New York, as an agent for Edward T. Chow [3]
From 1952
The Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Mathias Komor, New York [4]
[1] See Martha Ann Bari, Helen D. Ling: Dealer, collector, and Connoisseur [MA Thesis] (College Park: University of Maryland, 1992), pp. 49-89. Bari traces the close relationship forged between Helen D. Ling, Edward T. Chow, Hans W. Siegel, and the connoisseur Jacob E. Melchior in Shanghai from 1943 to Melchior’s death in 1945. Melchior mentored both Chow and Ling and, upon his death, Chow, Ling, and Siegel “were permitted to buy the Melchior collection from the estate and divide the objects among themselves.” Through phone interviews Bari conducted with Ling’s son, James G. Ling, it is implied that Chow’s share of the Melchior objects was eventually sent to the New York dealer Mathias Komor.
Jacob Emil Melchior (1879-1945), also known as J. E. Melchior, was a Danish businessman and collector of Chinese ceramics. He relocated to Shanghai for work about 1904, and by 1934 his collection held more than a thousand objects. When he began collecting, Melchior pursued examples of Ming porcelain but would expand his collection to include examples from the Tang, Sung, Shang, Chou, Chin, and Han Dynasties.
[2] See object file for copy of March 1993 curator note by L. A. Cort: “Formerly in the collection of E. T. Chow, Hong Kong. Chow inventory number written in Chinese on box label: no. 69, later changed to 105. Sale number C.103 on paper label.” C.103 was the number assigned by Helen D. Ling and Edward T. Chow and used by Mathias Komor for the 1950-1953 sale of items from Chow’s collection at his New York gallery; see also notes 1, 3 and 4.
Edward (“Eddie”) T. Chow (1910-1980) was a significant collector and dealer in Chinese art during the postwar years. Born in Yangzhou, he was sent to Shanghai at the age of thirteen, where he studied with the art dealer Zhu Heting. He was mentored by the connoisseur Jacob E. Melchior and formed a professional relationship with dealer Helen D. Ling. Chow developed a network that included some of the major collectors of Chinese art during the first half of the twentieth century, including Sir Percival David and George Eumorfopoulos. Having built both his reputation as a dealer and his own significant collection of Chinese works of art, in 1967 he moved to Switzerland. Following his death, Chow’s collection was auctioned by Sotheby’s in Hong Kong and London.
[3] See object file for copy of inventory list in Box 7, Folder 5, titled “E.T.C. Ming Dynasty Kingtehchen Porcelain” from the Helen D. Ling Papers, National Museum of Asian Art Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. The bowl is listed as “C103 Chia Ching Plate”. Beginning in 1948, Helen D. Ling worked with Edward T. Chow to catalog his collection of Ming ceramics, including objects acquired from the late Jacob E. Melchior collection. This collection of ceramics was sent to the gallery of Mathias Komor in New York City, a collector with whom Helen D. Ling had forged connections. Komor exhibited the works from 1950-1953 as “Imperial Porcelains of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 A. D.).” Komor produced a limited catalog of 95 of the 130 works compiled by Ling and Chow in March 1951; as such, the lot numbers in the exhibition catalog do not sync with the numbers applied by Ling in the “E.T.C. Ming Dynasty Kingtehchen Porcelain” list. Additionally, see object file for copy of Mathias Komor letter to A. G. Wenley, dated January 28, 1951, stating, “I beg to acknowledge with many thanks receipt of your airmail-special delivery letter of the 26th, bringing me the welcome news of your decision to acquire all of the fine Ming porcelains now in your hands,” with a written notation “52.3-52.6 incl.” This letter indicates the object was at the Freer Gallery of Art for examination by at least the beginning of 1951.
Mathias Komor was a Hungarian American dealer of Asian art and antiquities. He was a founding member of the Asia Society and a leading authority on Chinese antiquities, and he served as a consultant to several U. S. museums. Komor had a gallery on Madison Avenue in New York from 1941 until his retirement in 1983.
[4] See object file for copy of Mathias Komor invoice to the Freer Gallery of Art, dated January 14, 1952, and approved by the Acting Secretary June 12, 1951, including object no. C.103, described as a “Large porcelain plate with elaborate cloud and dragon design incised on paste, under Mohammedan blue glaze.”
Research updated August 23, 2023
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Exhibition History:
Chinese Ceramics (April 11, 1978 to September 4, 1980)
Untitled Exhibition, Chinese Ceramics (March 7, 1957 to January 1, 1963)
Untitled Exhibition, Chinese Ceramics, 1955 (September 19, 1955 to November 10, 1955)
Centennial Exhibition, Gallery 13 (November 10, 1955 to March 1, 1957)
Untitled Exhibition, Chinese Art, 1953 (May 26, 1953 to September 15, 1953)
Stone Sculpture, Buddhist Bronze, and Chinese Painting (May 2, 1923 to February 25, 1956)
Previous custodian or owner:
Edward T. Chow (1910-1980)
Mathias Komor (1909-1984)
dragon  Search this
Jingdezhen ware  Search this
Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644)  Search this
lotus  Search this
Jiajing reign (1522 - 1566)  Search this
China  Search this
porcelain  Search this
Chinese Art  Search this
Credit Line:
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number:
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Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Collection
Data Source:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery