Sotheby’s has announced rare ceramic bowl with a $25m estimate for their April sales in Hong Kong that has the potential to break the $36.3m record set by Liu Yiqian four years ago:
Sotheby’s Hong Kong Chinese Works of Art Spring Sale Series 2018 on 3 April will be led by the superbly enamelled, fine and exceedingly rare H.M. Knight Pink-Ground Falangcai Bowl (pictured above), a rediscovered imperial heirloom handscroll by Qian Weicheng, bequeathed by the last Emperor Pu Yi to his younger brother Pu Jie and sutras. Anchored by a strong line-up of Qing pieces, the series of six sales will offer about 300 lots with a total estimate of nearly HK$730 million / US$93.5 million / £67.4 million.
The magnificently enameled pink-ground bowl is without question the finest example of its type and the only ever recorded with this design. There exists however a closely related example, the pride of the National Palace Museum, Taipei, which is painted with different flowers but the exact same colour ground. Given the rarity of the colours used and the admirable perfection of the firing, it is likely that the two were painted and fired side by side. Thrown and fired by potters at the Imperial kilns in Jingdezhen, the bowls were then painted in the Imperial Palace workshops in the Forbidden City in Beijing, possibly by Jesuits resident at the court of the Kangxi emperor, and fired a second time. The present bowl once belonged to the celebrated collector Henry M. Knight and has not been seen on the market for over thirty years, and can be traced all the way back to Shanghai, 1930.
Nicolas Chow, Deputy Chairman, Sotheby’s Asia, International Head and Chairman, Chinese Works of Art, comments, “There is extraordinary quality and breadth in our offerings of Chinese art this season, with possibly the finest assemblage of Qing porcelain on offer in recent memory. The H. M. Knight Gold-Pink Falangcai Bowl ranks without question among the very finest Imperially enamelled porcelains made for the personal use of the Kangxi emperor, whilst the Ruby-Ground Sgraffito bottle vase and the unusually large Lemon-Yellow Ground and Blue Tianqiuping both testify to the exceedingly high levels of craftsmanship achieved at the Imperial kilns during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor. The two magnificent sets of Imperial Wisdom Sutras, by Imperial order of the Ming Emperor Xuande in the first part of the 15th century, are the finest manuscripts to have been produced during the dynasty and no Chinese manuscript of this importance has ever been offered at auction.”