A porcelain Chinese bowl produced during the Qing dynasty has fetched over $25 million at Hong Kong auction house Sotheby’s.
The bowl was sold for 198.2 million Hong Kong dollars (approximately $25.2 million) on Saturday.
Measured at approximately 4.5 inches in diameter, Sotheby’s described the artifact as “highly important” due to its 18th-century Beijing imperial workshop origins. Believed to have been produced during the Yongsheng Emperor’s reign from 1722 to 1735, the bowl adhered to the painting traditions of “falangcai” or “foreign colors.”
Depicted on the porcelain are paintings of a willow tree, a blossoming apricot tree and two swallows.
An excerpt from a poem commissioned by the Yongsheng Emperor’s predecessor, the Wanli Emperor, on the bowl reads: “Scissors of jade cut through the flowers, Like rainbow garments brought back from the moon.”
According to ceramics expert Regina Krahl in the auction catalog, paintings of apricot flowers and swallows were a popular design during Yongsheng’s Ming dynasty, further providing evidence of its origins. Other examples of similar paintings and designs can be found in Taiwan’s Palace Museum.
The bowl was previously owned by American socialite Barbara Hutton and acquired by collector Alice Cheng for over $19 million in 2006.
However, the porcelain bowl is one half of a pair, which was recorded by Captain Charles Oswald Liddell, a Shanghai-based shipping merchant, in the 19th century. After being sold separately in 1929, the bowl’s “twin” is now located in London’s British Museum.
Established in 1744, Sotheby’s touts itself as “the world’s largest, most trusted and dynamic marketplace for art and luxury.” Spanning over 40 countries and departments, the auction house hosts over 600 annual auctions.
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