An exquisite wucai fish jar from the Jiajing period (1507-1567) of China's Ming Dynasty is set to sell at Sotheby's on September 11-12.
The Jiajing Emperor was known as a staunch supporter of Daoism, spending extravagant sums on the construction of temples and various Daoist ceremonies. The fish jars that were created under his rule are noted as some of the most remarkable examples of imperial porcelain due to their unusual Daoist imagery, which contrasts with the tradition depiction of deities in its light-hearted, positive themes.
Traditionally, wucai jars are decorated with five colours - which is what the term literally means. The item offered at auction is distinctive in that it uses a sixth; a rich orange has been used to colour the fish.
Complete with its original cover, the fish jar is one of only two or three in such a condition that remain in private hands, with the majority of complete examples currently housed in museums. Sotheby's will offer the piece with a $500,000-700,000 estimate.
The magnificent jar is one of two housed in the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, which is selling the item in order to raise money for its Asian art acquisition fund. Having not been displayed since the 1920s, it can expect strong attention from bidders.
With Chinese porcelain items consistently selling with impressive results and treasure assets now forming 16.6% of Chinese high-net worth individuals' wealth, Paul Fraser Collectibles expects the jar to exceed its estimate considerably.
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