Xuande blue fish bowl will auction in April

Sotheby’s is offering a Xuande blue and white fish pond bowl in a major sale of Asian art on April 5 in Hong Kong.

The Xuande emperor (1399-1435) was the fifth Ming dynasty (1368-1644) ruler to take to the throne.

Xuande fish bowl

The lobes on the side of the bowl give the impression of moving water 

He was regarded as one of the greatest of China’s imperial patrons, presiding over a creative flowering of the national porcelain industry.   

Sotheby’s describes the bowl as “one of the greatest examples of early Ming blue and white porcelain in private hands.

“The bowl is unrivalled in its design, painting quality, shape and size…

“Although the fish pond design has been frequently used as a motif on Chinese porcelain, it has rarely been infused with as much life as on the present bowl, whose shape cleverly evokes the illusion of gentle underwater motion.”

The design features fishes swimming in a lotus pond, a motif used regularly in early Yuan era (1279-1368) Ming porcelain but that was rarely used in the Xuande era.

It was painted with unmatched skill and appears to be unique in terms of its size (it measures 23cm in diameter).

While two comparable designs are known in the Museum of Tapei, they are significantly smaller.

There’s no estimate available for the lot, but it’s likely to go for several million dollars.

A highly rare Xuande three-fish stem cup is also on offer with a valuation of $5.1m.

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