A rare sweet-white 'tianbai' glazed vase, yuhuchunping, Yongle period (1403-1425)

Lot 20. A rare sweet-white 'tianbai' glazed vase, yuhuchunping, Yongle period (1403-1425); 30.6cm (12 1/16in) highEstimate HK$600,000 - 800,000 (€73,000 - 97,000)Sold for HK$ 3,880,000 (€ 460,966). Photo: Bonhams.

Of pear shape form with a waisted neck rising to a flaring rim, the full body raised on a tall, flared foot, covered in an even lustrous ivory-white glaze leaving the rounded foot unglazed showing fine biscuit. 30.6cm (12 1/16in) high

ProvenanceA private American collection, by repute

NoteSweet-white, also known as tianbai glazed yuhuchunping vases, of plain design without incised anhua decoration are very rare. Improvements in firing practices involving experimenting with versatile glaze stone and ash mixtures meant that monochrome glazes produced during the early 15th century had fewer impurities, resulting in purer glazes. This laid the foundation for the later periods in which flawless glaze and firing methods were perfected to produce high quality imperial ceramics.

Compare a very similar sweet-white glazed vase, Yongle, from the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Imperial Porcelains from the Reigns of Hongwu and Yongle in the Ming Dynasty: A Comparison of Porcelains from the Imperial Kiln Site at Jingdezhen and the Imperial Collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing, 2015, pp.219-219, no.102; see another white-glazed yuhuchunping, excavated from Tomb 5 of the Marquess of Xining (d.1407), illustrated by J.M.Addis, Chinese ceramics from datable tombs and some other dated material, New York, 1978, pp.94-95.

For related vases with incised anhua decoration, see R.Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, Vol.IV(I), London, 2010, p.67, no.1631, later sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 7 April 2011, lot 49; and another sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 27 November 2013, lot 3211. See also a related plain white-glazed 'monk's cap' ewer, Yongle, incised with Shah Jahan mark, sold at Sotheby's London, 7 November 2012, lot 318.