This rare blue and white moonflask dating to the Ming Dynasty was being used as a doorstop in a Long Island home. It recently sold for $1.3 million at Sotheby’s.
NEW YORK – Among the nearly $27 million worth of Chinese antiques and works of art that sold on Sept. 12 at Sotheby’s was a rare blue and white vase dating to the Ming Dynasty that was being used as a doorstop in a Long Island home.
After identifying the piece as a moonflask from the Yongle Period and putting up for auction, the vase fetched $1,314,500, much more than the pre-sale estimate of $600,000 to $900,000. The flask’s flattened, circular body is described as well-painted in inky tones of cobalt blue with some heaping and piling, an elaborate medallion of interlaced ruyi heads enclosing trefoils and linked by demi-florets within a band of scrolling leaves with thin undulating stems between double line borders.
All told, Sotheby’s Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Sale brought a total of $26,985,314, which was significantly exceeded the pre-sale high estimate of $21.6 million and was nearly 20-percent higher than the equivalent sale last year. Among the other highlights of the sale was an important Wucai “Fish” jar and cover with a Jiajing mark, consigned by the Walters Museum in Baltimore. It realized $1,986,500 (pre-sale est. $500,000-$700,000) and the proceeds will benefit the museum’s Asian Art Acquisitions Fund.
The fish jar’s stoutly potted globular body is decorated in vibrant transparent enamels with a continuous frieze of large golden carp swimming amidst lotus and waterweed, the fish in reddish-orange with fins and scales penciled in iron red, the lotus blossoms in bright yellow and iron red with leaves of pale green growing alongside feathery and spiky grasses in purplish underglaze blue, yellow and green with iron red and reddish-brown outlines, all beneath clusters of waterweed and scattered floating blossoms.
An important Wucai “fish” jar and cover with a Jiajing mark, consigned by the Walters Museum in Baltimore, was the highlight of the sale, realizing $1,986,500.
“Collectors from around the world were drawn to high-quality pieces with distinguished provenance,” said Dr. Tao Wang, head of the Chinese Works of Art Department at Sotheby’s New York, “particularly that of museums, as can be seen with the $2 million Wucai ‘fish’ jar and cover from the Walters Museum.”
The historical artifacts in the sale were led by an Imperial jade “Ba Zheng Mao Nian Zhi Bao” seal, Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period, which sold for $3,498,500—the top lot of the auction (est. $800,000-$1.2 million). Other highlights included the exceptional selection of bronzes in the sale, such as an archaic bronze wine vessel (Hu), Eastern Zhou Dynasty 8th-7th century B.C. that garnered a $1,538,500 winning bid.
Another discovery in the auction was a pair of Huanghuali Yokeback armchairs (Sichutou Guanmaoyi) from the 17th century that sold for $758,500 (est. $180,000-$250,000). Buddhist art also performed well with a gilt-bronze figure of Buddha, Northern Wei Dynasty, doubling the pre-sale estimate to sell for $1,172,500, and a large limestone “Longmen” head of a Bodhisattva, early Tang Dynasty, 7th century, fetching $992,500, several times the $40,000-$60,000 estimate.
For more information about this auction, visit the Sotheby’s website.
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