A piece of Northern Song dynasty (AD 960-1127) Ru porcelain sold for a record $37.7m at Sotheby’s Hong Kong yesterday.
That makes it the most valuable piece of Chinese porcelain ever sold, just exceeding the $36m paid for an ultra-rare 15th century "chicken cup" in 2014.
Ru ware is prized for the depth of its glaze
The dish is designed for washing brushes and was produced in the legendary Ru kiln in Henan Province.
The workshop was renowned for the almost translucent quality of its celadon glaze. In this case, it's paired with an exquisite ice crackle effect.
The appeal of Ru ware is its minimalism.
Sotheby’s explains: “Instead of displaying complex skills in elaborate compositions, they favoured natural and spontaneous depictions of humble motifs.
“As painters tried to render the atmosphere of a landscape at a specific moment, at a certain time of day or in certain weather conditions, potters were admired for achieving glazes of a specific shade (‘approaching the blue of the sky after rain’)...”
When firing, the pots were balanced on sticks to ensure an even coverage. This left behind spurs that became known as “sesame seed” marks.
Ru ware was only produced for a very short period of time – around 20 years between 1086 and 1106.
Only 87 pieces have survived.
Of these, 15 were damaged by a fire started by court eunuchs at the Forbidden Palace in 1923, in an effort to keep imperial treasures out of the hands of the colonial powers.
This bowl is certainly the best of the four remaining on the private market.
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