Lot 152. An extremely rare blue and white 'lotus' vase, Ming dynasty, Xuande-Zhengtong period (1425-1449). Height 9½ in., 24 cm. Estimate: 150,000 - 250,000 USD. Lot sold: 441,000 USD. © Sotheby's 2021
finely potted and of elongated ovoid form, the full swelling shoulders sweeping to a slightly waisted cylindrical neck, delicately painted in rich tones of cobalt blue accented with characteristic 'heaping and piling', the body with a composite scroll of four stylized lotus, each in alternating stages of bloom with pomegranate-shaped centers on a slender stem wreathed by meandering foliate scrolls, divided by trios of leaves enclosing four or five long-stemmed berries, all between overlapping plantain-leaf lappets with well-defined veins encircling the shoulders and foot, the neck with an alternating band of prunus florets and sprigs, with a recessed stepped base.
Property of the Honorable John D. Rockefeller IV.
Provenance: The Rockefeller Family Collection, acquired prior to 1968, and thence by descent.
Note: This vase is extremely rare both in form and design. Only two other examples appear to be recorded, both inscribed with a Xuande (r. 1426-35) reign mark. One is preserved in the National Palace Museum, Taipei (acc. no. 故-瓷-012450-N000000000), illustrated in Porcelain of the National Palace Museum: Blue-and-white Ware of the Ming Dynasty, Book II, Part 1, Hong Kong, 1963, pls 2 and 2a, included in the Museum’s Special Exhibition of Selected Hsüan-te Imperial Porcelains of the Ming Dynasty, Taipei, 1998, cat. no. 16 (fig. 1).
fig. 1. A fine blue and white 'lotus' vase, mark and period of Xuande © The collection of National Palace Museum, Taipei (acc. no. 故-瓷-012450-N000000000).
The other was sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 27th April 1993, lot 37 (fig. 2), later entering into the collection of the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, Hamburg, illustrated in Nora von Achenbach, Chinesische Kunst im Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg / Chinese art in the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, Hamburg, 2012, no. 45.
fig. 2. A rare and finely painted early Ming blue and white ovoid vase, mark and period of Xuande, Sotheby's Hong Kong, 27th April 1993, lot 37.
Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art, New York, 21 September 2021